17 Sep 2021

Oceania set to hold FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Qatar

11:22 am on 17 September 2021

Oceania's FIFA World Cup regional qualifiers are set to take place in Qatar early next year.

Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will renew their football rivalry at Lawson Tama Stadium.

Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in action in 2019. Photo: SIFF Media

The Oceania Football Confederation has confirmed they are exploring the possibility of staging their qualifying matches in the Middle Eastern country in March. Qatar is hosting the World Cup at the end of 2022.

The plans are subject to final approval from World governing body FIFA.

The OFC Executive Committee approved the plans this week after agreeing that "it was not possible to organise a qualifying competition within the Oceania region".

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said finding a way for the qualifiers to go ahead is a priority.

"Despite the issues presented by the pandemic, and subsequent border restrictions in our region, we are working hard to ensure these games can still take place," he said.

"As an organisation we continue to work towards the goal of qualifying two teams for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and 2027 and are committed to pushing forward with opportunities for Oceania nations to appear on the international stage, even during these challenging times.

"I'd like to acknowledge and thank FIFA, AFC and Qatar Football Association for their support through this process."

All Whites captain Winston Reid and Troy Parrott of Ireland

New Zealand are the top ranked men's national team in Oceania. Photo: Photosport

Oceania's regional qualifiers, featuring 11 member associations, were originally due to get underway in September last year but were postponed due to Covid-19.

Plans to begin during this year's March and June international windows were also scrapped because of the global pandemic.

World Cup shake-up on the cards?

Meanwhile FIFA said it has fan backing for the much-criticised plan to shift to a biennial World Cup after releasing a summary of the results of an opinion survey of supporters.

France celebrating their 4-2 win against Croatia in the FIFA World Cup final.

France are the reigning FIFA World Cup champions. Photo: AFP

The proposals, which have been outlined by FIFA's head of Global Football Development, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, have been met with widespread opposition from within the game.

FIFA's congress in May voted by a large majority to conduct a feasibility study into the potential of holding the World Cup every two years instead of every four.