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Of all of the confederations in the world for soccer, the only one that isn't guaranteed a spot in the World Cup is Oceania. In fact, incredibly rare is the team who ultimately makes it to the World Cup out of this confederation, and no set of nations will probably stand to have more gains than this one when the field expands in the future. Six teams are left fighting for just one spot out of Oceania at the table to get into the World Cup, and even then, 180 minutes against the fifth place finisher in South America feels like an uphill battle.
New Zealand – 4 Points
New Caledonia – 1 Point
Fiji – N/A
The way that World Cup qualifying works in Oceania is a bit odd. A total of eight teams play in the OFC Nations Cup, a tournament that both is for its prestige and for World Cup qualifying. The OFC Nations Cup puts two teams away for good, while the top three finishers in each group ultimately move on to this last stage.
Because there are just three teams in each group, what happens is that the teams play against each other both home and away within a few days of each other while the third team in the group sits out and waits its turn, effectively giving each of the three teams a "bye" from the action.
In Group A, we're going to see Fiji face New Zealand on March 25 and 28. If the White Ferns manage to take all six points, they'll have won this group with matches between Fiji and New Caledonia left to play. Considering the fact that Fiji just barely snuck into this stage of the competition with three points in three matches in the OFC Nations Cup, this is an uphill battle. New Caledonia is merely hoping that Fiji can take a point from one of these matches and then ultimately turn around in the two matches against Fiji to be played in June and take all six points by a wide enough margin to top New Zealand. To say that's a stretch though, is an understatement.
Tahiti – 3 Points
Solomon Islands – 3 Points
Papua New Guinea – N/A
The only thing that could have been better for Papua New Guinea would have been if Tahiti and the Solomon Islands had both drawn their initial two matches in Group B. Instead, both managed to get a win at home, and that has set the stage for Papua New Guinea to effectively put this group away on March 23 and 28 against Tahiti before its two matches in June against the Solomon Islands.
Of course, that can't be the case after just two matches for the team that finished as the runner-up to New Zealand in the OFC Nations Cup. The best that could happen is six points to pull three up on the Solomon Islands with two fixtures to play. That said, if that turns out to be the case, the Solomon Islands would have to pick up at least four points against Papua New Guinea in June to advance, and the likelihood of that is virtually nil.
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