- Oceania gets U-17 Women’s World Cup qualification underway
- Samoa hosting eight-team OFC U-16 Women’s Championship
- New Zealand aiming for fifth successive U-17 Women’s finals
Less than ten months after Korea DPR defeated Japan on penalties in Jordan to win their second FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, qualification is about to commence for the 2018 edition of the tournament. Kicking us off on the road to Uruguay, the first South American host of the U-17 Women’s World Cup, eight teams from Oceania are set to compete for one berth at the 16-team finals.
Held in Samoa, the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship sees two groups of four, with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals, compete for one ticket to Uruguay in November of next year. The continental tournament, which takes place from 4 to 18 August, will act as the first real step for many of the young talents in Oceania competing on the international stage.
FIFA.com looks ahead to the upcoming action in Samoa.
Group A: New Zealand, Samoa, New Caledonia, Tahiti
Group B: Fiji, Cook Islands, Tonga, America Samoa
— Emma Evans (@emma_evans7) August 2, 2017
Samoan capital Apia is the sole venue of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship and will play host to all 15 of the tournament’s matches. This is the first time Samoa has hosted the competition after New Zealand (2010 & 2012) and Cook Islands (2016).
Two countries will make their OFC U-16 Women’s Championship debuts this year: American Samoa and Tahiti. Both will be eager to test themselves on the continental stage. Were they to qualify, it would be American Samoa's first appearance at a FIFA tournament.
Three nations have included players from July’s OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in New Zealand in their U-16 squads: Samoa, New Caledonia and Tonga. Samoa and New Caledonia will benefit from the experience of Vineta Faleaana and Marie-Laure Palene respectively, while Tonga boast several players who were in New Zealand, including Nipa Talasinga and Seini Lutu, who played key roles even at the higher age bracket.
New Zealand are the only team to have represented Oceania at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, having made four appearances at the tournament. The Young Football Ferns have won the U-16 OFC Women’s Championship on all three occasions and hosted the inaugural U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008. After their U-19 Women’s Championship triumph, the U-16 side will no doubt want to continue their winning ways.
Led by Argentinian head coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf, hosts Samoa have seven members of their squad playing for clubs outside of Oceania – the most of any team at the competition – all of whom play in USA, with three of them featuring for teams from Hawaii (namely Bulls, Hawaii Rush and Hawaii Surf).
What they said
"The ultimate goal is to create future Football Ferns and I am confident that we have the quality in this squad that in time they have the ability to go on and represent the Ferns. This tournament is another step in their development and a chance to show their ability."
New Zealand coach Leon Birnie
"I am so excited and looking forward to the tournament in Samoa, and there are six girls in the U-19 who will join me in Samoa which I am also looking forward to."
Tonga midfielder Carmel Uhila
— OFC Oceania Football (@OFCfootball) July 31, 2017