A place in Saturday’s OFC U-19 Championship 2022 final is not the only reward on the table for the four remaining nations in this year’s tournament.
Both victors in tomorrow’s semi-final fixtures will also achieve qualification for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2023 Indonesia™.
The top two teams from the Oceania region earn the right to participate in next year’s age-group event. Therefore, one team each from the Fiji v New Caledonia and New Zealand v Tahiti clashes can begin planning for a trip to Indonesia next year – before battling it out for regional supremacy in the final.
Three of the nations have previously taken part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
New Zealand have done on six occasions, most recently in Poland in 2019 when they were cruelly eliminated on penalties by Colombia.
Tahiti have played on the world stage twice, in Egypt back in 2009 and again in Poland ten years later.
Fiji featured at the 2015 edition, hosted by fellow OFC nation New Zealand. They exited in the group stages but secured a famous 3-0 win over Honduras in Christchurch.
For New Caledonia, qualification would be a first, with only the tournament winners qualifying when they finished as OFC runners-up back in 2008.
New Caledonia feature in the first semi-final against Fiji which kicks off on Wednesday, September 21 at 4.30pm local time. New Caledonia are slight favourites after winning both of their games at the competition so far without conceding a goal. Fiji will however prove to be a tough opponent, having comfortably beaten Tonga and Samoa along their route to the semis.
In the second semi-final, tournament favourites New Zealand will take on host nation Tahiti at 8.00pm local time later the same day.
Tahiti battled past Vanuatu in the quarter-finals and have yet to concede in the tournament. New Zealand also have no blemishes on their record but have scored an impressive 28 goals across their four games. However, with New Zealand suffering with injuries to several key players, Tahiti will hope to stop them in their tracks in what is a repeat of the 2018 final.
While the prize of winning the OFC U-19 Championship 2022 will remain the highest goal for all four teams involved, the reward of FIFA U-20 World Cup qualification will be a huge cause for celebration to tomorrow’s winning nations.