OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament 1988

The inaugural OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament was held in 1988 to decide the OFC representative for the men’s Olympic football tournament at the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea. The tournament consisted of two rounds, with the first round seeing four teams fight it out for three spots in the second round with Israel, where the top ranked side would qualify for the Olympics after a round-robin phase.

Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan all emerged from the first round to join Israel, with the second round played in venues across Australia and New Zealand. Utilising the home advantage, Australia topped the table by a single point over Israel to qualify for the 1988 Olympic Games. They dropped points twice to Israel and New Zealand, but their 2-0 victory over the former in the reverse fixture in Melbourne proved decisive in their qualification, finishing with four wins and two draws.

The 1988 Olympic Games men’s football tournament marked Australia’s first appearance at the event since 1956, and they capitalised on the opportunity by becoming the first OFC member to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition with 1-0 victories over both Yugoslavia and Nigeria in the group phase. Australia went on to face the Soviet Union in the quarter-final, losing 3-0, to the eventual gold medal winners.