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Draw defines Road to Rio

OFC Head of Competitions Michael Song says the draw has revealed some interesting match ups which are bound to enthrall football fans in Papua New Guinea and around the Pacific.
“A lot of these teams haven’t competed at this level since either the previous edition of the Olympic Qualifiers, or the qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and the anticipation of seeing these teams in action again is building,” he says.
“We know that winning gold at the Pacific Games is incredibly important for all of the competing countries and so they will be bringing their best to Port Moresby in July in the hopes of unseating New Caledonia in the men’s tournament, and Papua New Guinea in the women’s.”
The 2015 Men’s Football Tournament is being contested by eight nations, though just six of them are eligible to qualify for the Olympics and New Zealand out of the running for the Pacific Games gold medal.
In Group A Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu and the Federated State of Micronesia will compete to progress to the next stage. In Group B it will be a tough task as New Caledonia, New Zealand, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea will all be keen to progress.
The 2015 Pacific Games Women’s Football Tournament doubles as Stage 1 of the Women’s Olympic Qualifier, with seven teams having signed up to compete for gold medal glory.
The 2011 runners-up New Caledonia have been drawn into prime position in the top spot in Group A where they’ll be taking on Tonga, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
Pacific Games gold medal holders and 2012 Olympic Qualifying runners-up Papua New Guinea will need to beat Fiji and Cook Islands if their hopes of defending the gold, and progressing to Stage 2 and a home-and-away play-off against the Football Ferns has any hope of coming true.
The XV Pacific Games gets underway on Friday 3 July for the men, and will conclude with the final on Friday 17 July. The Men’s Olympic Qualifier will have already wrapped up at this point, with the final scheduled for Sunday 12 July.
Meanwhile the women’s tournament will kick-off on Monday 6 July with the final scheduled for Thursday 16 July.
Story by OFC Media

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