Fiji to host qualifier

Fiji is set to host the OFC Women’s Nations Cup qualifier later this year as part of women’s football development in the country.

Fiji Football Association vice-president Susan Wise says Fiji is ready to host the tournament in August.

“We are ready to host the qualifier which will give our girls an advantage to play at home,” Wise said.

She said there was huge interest in women’s football in the country.

“Women’s football in the Fiji is growing as we can see some new talents during the Vodafone U16 Youth League. We have a bright future in women’s football, “Wise said.

Wise said the national teams’ performance at the OFC Women’s under-16 and U19 championship last year was the start of a new era for Fiji football.

“We need to put in place structures which allow our best to work together with a quality coach and to take part in high level competitions,” Wise said.

Wise said they had set up their plan for the qualifier and would start weekend camp soon.

“We have set up our plan to have weekend camps as we are still in the process of scouting the best talents from our league matches.”

Wise confirmed that Rewa coach Marika Rodu would once again head the coaching panel for the Vodafone national women’s team.

“Yes Rodu will guide the team during the championship in August.”

American Samoa, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu will compete to progress from the qualifier, which is to be hosted at Churchill Park in Lautoka from 25-31 August.

The winner will go on to join Tonga, Cook Islands and defending champion New Zealand in Group B.

Making up Group A are hosts New Caledonia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Tahiti.

Only four OFC member associations have hosted the OFC Women’s Nations Cup with this year’s edition making a return to New Caledonia for the first time since 1983, when the inaugural version of this competition was held — the OFC Women’s Championship.

Since then it has passed between former OFC member Australia, New Zealand and most recently, Papua New Guinea.

Although New Caledonia was not present in Kokopo for the 10th edition of the competition, they assembled a year later in Port Moresby for the XV Pacific Games where they finished off with a silver medal behind fellow Group B side Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea has held the gold medal in the Pacific Games since the introduction of the women’s tournament in 2003, and they had been runners-up in the OFC Women’s Nations Cup for the past two editions.

Tahiti has never finished in the top three, and neither has Samoa.

In Group A the hot favourite to earn a fifth Oceania champion’s title is New Zealand who boast a large majority of professional players among their squad.

Although Cook Islands has finished third in the past two editions, and Tonga in the one before that in 2007, they are expected to struggle against the might of the Football Ferns.

The OFC Women’s Nations Cup will be held from November 18 to December 1 in New Caledonia.

The winner of the competition will qualify directly to both the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 and the Women’s Olympic Games’ football tournament in Tokyo in 2020.

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