Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

Having already faced-off against one another in the group stage, New Zealand and Fiji meet once again at the OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier 2023, this time in the final.

The two sides opened their campaigns against one another in Group A, with the Kiwis coming out on top 3-1, despite a much improved second-half performance from Fiji. Since then, the Fijians have had to overcome Papua New Guinea to confirm their progression from the group and then see off Solomon Islands in the quarter-finals. New Zealand powered their way to the final with an 8-0 victory against Vanuatu.

Fiji’s semi-final against Solomon Islands was arguably the match the tournament so far, with two goals from captain Etonia Dogalau propelling his side into the final. It could have been a much different story if the Solomon Islands had been able to convert their chances but either via post or the excellent Aydin Mustahib in goal, they couldn’t find a way through.

Head Coach Robert Sherman will be hoping that his side can build on not only their semi-final performance but also the excellent second-half they enjoyed in their opener against the Kiwis and book a place at the Olympic Games for the second time following their appearance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Hosts New Zealand again looked impressive in their slick semi-final win over Vanuatu. Despite easing off in the second period, the 8-0 scoreline was just rewards for an intense and attacking first 45 minutes at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart.

Having already registered one win over their final opponents already, a repeat performance would be just the ticket as the Kiwis look to seal a return to the Olympic Games, having enjoyed a successful adventure at Tokyo 2020 – narrowly missing out on a semi-final place thanks to a penalty shoot-out defeat to Japan.

Darren Bazeley’s side will head into Saturday’s final undoubtedly as favourites and have an impressive squad depth that was on show in their semi-final triumph. With a solid defensive core, anchored by skipper Finn Surman, and goals coming from all areas of the park, the Kiwis will fancy their chances of securing a trip to Paris next year.

With that expectation of course comes added pressure and with the biggest crowd of the tournament expected to converge on North Harbour Stadium, the host side will have to be on top of their game to avoid a potential upset.

Players to watch


Fiji’s captain has been their primary source of goals in the campaign, with three in three so far. The imposing forward’s two goals in the semi-final broke Solomon Island hearts and ensured Fiji advanced to Saturday’s final. New Zealand’s backline will need to be braced to cope with Dogalau’s physical presence and aerial threat come Saturday.


Ebbinge took the captain’s armband in the Kiwi’s opening win over Fiji due to the absence of Finn Surman and was the platform that his side built their attacks on.  Whilst the dominant nature of New Zealand’s semi-final victory over Vanuatu didn’t require the midfielder’s classy control of proceedings, it will certainly be vital at North Harbour Stadium if his side are to assert themselves as they go about trying to book their place in Paris.

OFC Men’s Olympic Qualifier 2023

New Zealand v Fiji
Saturday, September 9
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland