Women’s Nations Cup winner will be NZ-bound

Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, Aotearoa New Zealand. Credit: FIFA via Getty Images
Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, Aotearoa New Zealand. Credit: FIFA via Getty Images

The winner of this month’s OFC Women’s Nations Cup in Fiji will be heading to familiar territory after New Zealand was announced as the host of the first ever Play-Off Tournament for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

Waikato Stadium in Hamilton/Kirikiriroa and North Harbour Stadium in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau were announced as the host cities for the tournament, which will be played from 17-23 February 2023.

Ten teams will compete for the final three qualifying spots before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, with the Play-Off Tournament considered a key test event in the build-up to this history-making world cup.

FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman said the new competition will provide an opportunity for more teams to play at the top level, something Oceania nations are severely lacking – with the exception of New Zealand.

“The decision in 2019 to expand the FIFA Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32 teams has already had a significant impact on the wider growth and development of the women’s game. More nations now have the chance to play on the world’s biggest stage and this all starts with the Play-Off Tournament,” Bareman said.

The format for the participating teams was first announced in December 2020 and the full match schedule is available to download here: Play-Off Tournament Match Schedule.

The 10 participating teams will come from Asia (two), Africa (two), North and Central America and the Caribbean (two), South America (two), Europe (one), and Oceania (one).

Thailand and Chinese Taipei have already secured their berths as the AFC representatives, with the eight remaining teams to qualify for the Play-Off Tournament through their continental tournaments – the majority of which get underway this month.

In addition to the Play-Off Tournament, New Zealand’s Football Ferns will play three friendly matches around the event against the top-seeded team in the tournament and another high-profile guest team which is yet to be confirmed.

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell said the tournament is just the first step in a very exciting year for women’s football.

“To have so much international football right here on our doorstep is very exciting for Aotearoa New Zealand and there is more to come.

“With so much top football on display we know Kiwis will get behind our Football Ferns with the global spotlight on them in the lead up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.”

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