Nine football teams fighting for top spot at women’s Nations Cup

Fiji finished runner up at the last OFC Women's Nations Cup in 2018. Photo: Shane Wenzlick /

The Oceania Women’s football Nations Cup begins on Wednesday night in Fiji with the winners getting a chance to make the World Cup finals next year.

The tournament kicks off when Samoa plays Tonga at the HFC Bank Stadium in Suva, where all games are being hosted. See all the fixtures here.

The Nations Cup brings together nine teams, arranged into three groups of three.

All eyes will be on the final on July 30 with the victors entering the Play-Off Tournament hosted in Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand, from February 17-23 next year. That tournament features 10 teams from around the world chasing three spots in the finals.

The finals itself are being co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia. The Football Ferns are therefore exempted from the qualifying tournament.

This is how the groups line up.

Group A

Three Polynesian nations will ignite a friendly rivalry in Group A.

Samoa are led by former Wellington Phoenix star Paul Ifill who will look to use his own experience of playing in an international continental tournament with Barbados to his team’s advantage.

They start their campaign against Tonga, who finished third in 2007. Team Mataliki’s preparation for the tournament involved a trip to Australia where they faced top local opposition and World Cup 2023 participants the Philippines.

The Cook Islands round out the group and have a blend of domestic and New Zealand-based talent.

Group B

Papua New Guinea arrive as the favourites to claim overall glory. The highest-ranked nation picked up impressive international friendly wins over the Seychelles, Singapore and Solomon Islands in preparation for the tournament. After previously finishing as runners-up on three occasions, this might finally be the year PNG claim the title.

Whilst only their third appearance at the competition Tahiti have high hopes for their exciting squad assembled by head coach Stéphanie Spielmann.

For Vanuatu this will be their first Nations Cup since 2010 and their squad is a mixture of experience and youth.

Group C

Host nation Fiji will be aiming to go one better than the 2018 edition of the OFC Women’s Nations Cup – where they lost to New Zealand in the final.

They will be hoping home soil advantage and the guidance of experienced American head coach Lisa Cole can give them the edge. Their pre-tournament preparations would suggest they are a team to be reckoned with – after convincing friendly wins over Tonga and the Cook Islands.

New Caledonia impressed as hosts four years ago, reaching the semi-finals for the first time after beating Samoa and Tahiti in the Group Stage.

While Solomon Islands, led by men’s team legend Batram Suri, have set their sights on at least a run to the semi-finals.

The officials

Meanwhile, an all-female match official crew will take the field at the Nations Cup.

Eight OFC member associations are represented in the 16-strong group who will oversee the 17 matches.

Included are New Zealand duo Sarah Jones and Anna-Marie Keighley, and Maria Salamasina from Samoa, who next month will officiate at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

Source: RNZ