OFC’s Executive Committee reshapes tournament calendar

The Men’s OFC Under-16 Championship scheduled to be held in Fiji has been postponed until April 2021.

The winner will advance to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.

The event was initially scheduled for September of this year but in-light of the current pandemic, the OFC’s Executive Committee has agreed to reshape the tournament calendar for the rest of the year and the start of 2021.

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The decision came about in an online conference last week and has impacted this year’s OFC Champions League, various youth tournaments and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers.

There are also restrictions on large gatherings and a lack of available flights to some areas of the region.

OFC will submit a proposal to FIFA for the rescheduled World Cup qualifiers that would see teams begin their path to the global tournament in March 2021.

OFC’s 11 Member Associations would be split into two groups based on their FIFA ranking and would play matches in the March and June International Match Calendar windows.

The top two teams from each group would advance to the semi-finals in September before the final in October and the winner would go on to represent OFC in the Intercontinental Playoff in June 2022.

The qualifiers were meant to get underway in August of this year but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s OFC Champions League has been restructured with a single-location tournament to take place and host the knockout matches, pending borders reopening and travel restrictions within the Pacific loosening.

The OFC Champions’ League group stages took place in February and March, leaving eight teams vying for the title and a place at the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar in December.

The men’s OFC U-19 Championship set to be held in October will now be played in Samoa in January and the winner of this tournament will attend the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Indonesia in 2021.

Looking ahead to next year, the Executive Committee confirmed that Tahiti would host the OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup in January and the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2021 in September.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said these postponements and cancellations were the only option given the ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

In March, OFC suspended their football activities throughout the Pacific due to coronavirus and later cancelled the OFC Nations Cup 2020 that was due to be played in New Zealand in June.


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