ARGENTINA celebrated last Sunday (18th Dec) their third World Cup title; La Albiceleste captained by the magnificent Lionel Messi surpassed the powerful French national team to bring home another title after 36 years.
One more time, the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup did not count on a representant of OFC. New Zealand – that won the qualifying tournament this year after beating by 5-0 the Solomon Islands in the decisive match – was unable to secure a spot in the intercontinental playoff after failling to beat Keylor Navas’ Costa Rica. The last time an OFC team took part in the tournament was in 2010 when New Zealand was eliminated in the group stage after recording three draws against Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay.
But OFC is not going to be excluded anymore from the most important football tournament: starting from 2026 the Oceania Football Confederation will receive a direct slot for the World Cup as the competition will have now 48 participants, not 32 as in the previous editions. It means no-more intercontinental playoffs to qualify for the tournaments – the OFC teams will depend on only themselves.
The best-ever campaign from an OFC representative was back in 2006, when Australia – still an OFC member – was knocked out in the Round of 16 for the tournament winners Italy by 1-0. Since them, only once an OFC team qualified for the World Cup.
This means an important change for Oceania Football: any of the 11 full members of the confederation will have a direct chance to feature at the World Cup – winning the qualifying tournament is going to put them among the best national teams in the world. This can add a lot of competition and much more motivation to the players to represent their countries.
The Oceania football fans will wait anxiously for the next qualifying process and certainly expects much more development of the game in the region.
- By Oceania Football Center
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