Thomas Seneke, Media 365: Posted on Monday, March 21, 2022 at 9:41 pm.
New Zealand, to secure its place in the World Cup qualifiers in June, must ensure during the first 100% Oceania tournament to be held in Qatar since last week (and for another ten days). All went well.
The last batch of World Cup 2022 qualifiers, before the April 1 draw, started since… last week. Thus, due to Covid, no matches were played in the Oceania region. In a hurry, a mini-tournament was organized in Qatar. First of all, a little more than a week ago, on Sunday 13 March, the first preliminary meeting between the Cook Islands and Tonga was scheduled. But the latter had to be abandoned due to a volcanic eruption. The mini-tournament, which started on Thursday, has just seven teams, as Vanuatu also had to throw in the towel due to the Covid epidemic in its ranks.
Final dam in June
So one group consists of three Solomon Islands, Tahiti and the Cook Islands (Tahiti – Cook postponed due to Covid), while the second group includes New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Caledonia. In the now-integrated absence of Australia, which joined the Asia region in 2006, the New Zealanders are almost automatically the winners. They have already made sure to take the top of their group after Monday’s victory over Fiji (4-0), and were particularly marked by two goals from Newcastle striker Chris Wood, and the Whites will have to win in the semi-finals on Sunday. Then the final in ten days (Wednesday, April 30). But the obstacle course will not end with all that…
In fact, even if the draw for the final stage were to take place the next day, it would be necessary to play a final play-off in June (13 or 14) against the third in the CONCACAF region, which is still in Qatar. Defeat Mexico – the United States, Friday night to Saturday, it could be that, the two formations are completely separate – and tied on points – for second and third. As a reminder, the second intercontinental play-off, on the same date and also in Qatar, will face an Asian country (the two-thirds, who will already be in Doha for the first match on June 5), versus the fifth match in the South American region.
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