Papua New Guinea’s potential final path to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ became clear last week following the draw for the qualifying Play-Off Tournament to be played in New Zealand in February 2023.
Papua New Guinea have been drawn in Group C – alongside Chinese Taipei, Paraguay and Panama – following the draw at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland on Friday, October 14.
Papua New Guinea will take on Panama in the Group C semi-finals at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland on February 19. Chinese Taipei face Paraguay in the other semi-final clash at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton earlier the same day.
The winners of those two fixtures will face each other in the final on February 23 in Hamilton – with the winners qualifying for next year’s World Cup, hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
The groups are set! 🔢
— FIFA Women’s World Cup (@FIFAWWC) October 14, 2022
Papua New Guinea qualified for the Play-Off Tournament by winning the OFC Women’s Nations Cup in July. In what was a first-time win for the nation, PNG overcame the likes of Vanuatu, Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa and hosts Fiji to claim overall victory.
Their first Group C opponents, Panama, qualified after finishing third in the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship Group B behind Canada and Costa Rica. They are currently ranked 57 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Rankings, seven below number 50 ranked PNG.
Potential final opponents Chinese Taipei and Paraguay are ranked number 40 and 51 in the world respectively. Chinese Taipei qualified for the Play-Off Tournament as runners-up in the 2022 Women’s Asian Cup play-offs. Paraguay did so courtesy of a fourth-place finish in the 2022 Copa América Femenina.
In total, 10 teams from six FIFA confederations will take part in the Play-Off Tournament, being played in Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand, from February 18-23 2023.
As well as Papua New Guinea and their Group C opponents, Cameroon, Thailand and Portugal made up Group A while Group B consists of Senegal, Haiti and Chile – making 10 teams participating for three final spots at next-year’s World Cup.
New Zealand will also take part in the competition in friendly matches against Portugal and two games against as yet undetermined guest nations. Should Papua New Guinea lose their semi-final clash with Panama, they will also play a friendly match against the losers of the other Group C fixture on February 23 in Auckland.