1 Jun 2015

Road to Rio revealed for NZ football teams

12:36 pm on 1 June 2015

The road to next year's Rio Olympics became clearer for the All Whites and fellow Oceania football associations today following the release of the match schedule for both the men's and women's Olympic Qualifiers.

All Whites captain Winston Reid.

All Whites captain Winston Reid. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Both men's and women's events will form part of the XV Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from July 3-18.

OFC Head of Competitions Michael Song said the process of incorporating OFC Olympic Qualifying into the XV Pacific Games has been a lengthy process but it's exciting to be making progress.

"We have been working closely with the Pacific Games Council to find a competition schedule that will lead to an exciting and entertaining event for football fans," he said.

"While delays to construction have led to all matches being restricted to the Bisini Sports Complex rather than the initial two venues we had sought, we believe the site will become a hub for men's and women's football activities over the course of the two week competition."

In the men's event eight teams have been confirmed to take part, five of them IOC Member Associations; New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Three more non-IOC Member Associations will also be competing in the Pacific Games branch of the competition; New Caledonia, Tahiti and Federated States of Micronesia.

The eight teams will be drawn into two groups of four teams with the top two IOC members from each group set to progress to the semi-finals.

The winner of each semi-final will contest the final where the victor will go on to represent Oceania at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The format to find the winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for the XV Pacific Games will use the same group match competition as the OFC Olympic Qualifier, but it will be the top two Pacific Games Association members from each group who will qualify for the semi-finals.

The 2015 Pacific Games Women's Football Tournament will double as Stage 1 of the OFC Women's Olympic Qualifier with seven teams set to participate.

IOC Member Associations Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga are all taking part, with the only non-IOC Member Association participating that of New Caledonia.

In this event a group of four teams and another of three teams will play a round robin on a league basis.

The winner and runner-up of each group qualifies for the semi-final and the winner of each of those matches will contest the Pacific Games gold medal.

The highest ranked IOC Member Association will qualify for Stage 2, where a home-and-away play-off against New Zealand in October awaits them.

The winner of the play-off on aggregate score will represent OFC at the Women's Football Tournament in Rio next year.

The draw for OFC Men's and Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament's will be held later today.

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