OFC Nations Cup

ofc logoThe Nations Cup organised by the OFC (Oceania Football Confederation) is not as popular as the the other continental tournaments such as the Euro Championship and the Copa América. The tournament is also different in format. After kick-off it will take more than a year  before the Final is played! The OFC members are all islands. Australia used to be an OFC member and participated in the OFC Nations Cup. In 2006 the country changed membership from the OFC to the AFC (Asian Football Confederation). New Zealand is the biggest and most sucesful island now of the OFC. The 10th OFC Nations Cup starts on June 8 2015 and ends on November 15 2016!

The tournament is not very old and was hosted in 1973 for the first time. The tournament was then named the Oceania Cup. There were only 5 participants: New Zealand, Tahiti, New Caledonia, New Hebrides and Fiji. New Zealand defeated Tahiti with 2-0 in the Final The second edition 7 years later in 1980 was the last time the tournament used this name. It would take 16 years before such a tournament was organised again. In those 16 years there was only the Trans-Tasman Cup, which was a tournament between Australia and New Zealand only. This tournament ceased to exist after 1995.

new zealand

New Zealand won the first OFC Nations Cup and won this a record of 4 times

In 1996 when they finally kicked -off the third edition of the Oceania Cup, the tournament was named OFC Nations Cup. The name changed to OFC Nations Cup since OFC reached the official status of Confederation by FIFA in 1996. This was the only tournament which didn’t include a proper Final. New Zealand and Australia where the only finalists left in last round of the OFC Nations Cup, and played against each other twice. The team with the best aggregate score would win the tournament. Australia won by defeating New Zealand with 6-0 and 5-0.

The first 2 Oceania Cups didn’t contain an qualification rounds. From 1996 till 2000 Australia and New Zealand automatically qualified. Since 2002 (with  2008 qualifiers as exception) the lowest ranked teams play one round where the winner meets the higher ranked teams in the next round. This format was also used for  the last OFC Nations Cup qualification stage in 2012.

ofc trophy

The OFC Nations Cup trophy

From 1996 till 2004 the OFC Nations Cup was hosted every 2 years like the Africa Cup of Nations and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. After the 2004 Nations Cup it took 4 years before the next edition was hosted. Since then the tournament has always been organised every 4 years.

CountryOFC Nations CupTotal
New Zealand1973-2012 (all Nations Cups)9
Vanuatu1973, 1980, 1998-20128
Tahiti1973-2004, 20128
Fiji1973, 1980, 1998, 2002-20127
Australia1980-20046
Solomon Islands1980, 1996, 2000-2004, 20126
New Caledonia1973, 1980, 2002, 2008, 20125
Papua New Guinea1980, 2002, 20123
Cook Islands1998, 20002
Samoa20121

  • Australia became an AFC member in 2006, since then Australia enters the qualification rounds for the AFC Asian Cup

The amount of participants per tournaments increased from 4 in 1996 to 6 in 1998 to 8 participants in 2002. Interestingly enough this amount changed to 6 in 2004 and to 4 in 2008 again. In the last OFC Nations Cup in 2012 8 teams participated. In the upcoming Nations Cup there will a record amount of 11 countries participating.

The current OFC Nations Cup champion is Tahiti that won the tournament for the first time. They defeated New Caledonia in the 2012 Final. The most succesful team winning the most tournaments is New Zealand with 4 wins: in 1973, 1998, 2002 and 2008. Interestingly enough, The champion has always been Australia or New Zealand till 2012 when Tahiti won the tournament. The current all-time top scorer is former Australian player Damian Mori with 14 goals.

tahiti

Tahiti are the current OFC Nations Cup champions

For the third time in history the Nations Cup won’t have a single host. This was also the case in the 1996 and 2008 tournament. For the first time there will be 3 rounds. The first round will be played between 8–16 June 2015, the second round between 5 October 2015 – 7 June 2016 and the final round between 29 August – 15 November 2016. It’s not sure yet whether the entire competition will be called the OFC Nations Cup, or maybe only the final round. 11 OFC members will participate of the 14. Non-FIFA members Kiribati, Niue and Tuvalu are excluded from the tournament.

In the first round  American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa, and Tonga will play a preliminary round-robin tournament at a single venue. This means the teams play against each other once. The winner will advance to the second round. In the second round the first round winner will join the 7 remaining teams Fiji, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, and Vanuatu. The 8 teams will be drawn into 2 groups of 4. Each group will be played a double round-robin format on a home and away basis. The group winners and runners-up will advance to the third round.

The OFC Nations Cup official logo

The 4  teams from the second round will again play a double round-robin format on a home and away basis. This means there probably won’t be a Final game. The 2016 OFC Nations Cup champion will qualify for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia as well. The OFC is the only FIFA confederation which is not automatically allowed to the World Cup! Only 1 team may enter the World Cup which is the OFC Nations Cup champion. They will have to play an intercontinental play-offs in November 2017 where they will play  against a team from another confederation. The winner of this match will play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

 Learn more about the OFC Nations Cup!

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