By Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sport, Port Moresby
The dates and venues have been locked in for the OFC Stage 2 of the Women’s Olympic Football Qualifiers, as Papua New Guinea and New Zealand get set to challenge for the lone berth for Oceania at Rio 2016.
The first leg of the Olympic Play-Off will get underway at the PNG Football Association Academy pitch in Lae, on the 23rd of January, with a kick-off time at 2pm.
Papua New Guinea qualified for the Olympic Play-Off during Stage 1 which was held alongside the XV Pacific Games in July.
Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga were knocked out in the group stage, while losses in their respective semi-finals meant Samoa and Cook Islands were also eliminated from contention.
By virtue of their world ranking, New Zealand is seeded through to Stage 2 where they meet the winner of Stage 1 in a two leg home-and-away play-off.
History leans favourably towards the Football Ferns who are the two-time defending champions having toppled Papua New Guinea in both 2008 and 2012.
After 8-0 and 7-0 victories during the play-off in 2012 New Zealand went on to perform outstandingly at the London Olympics, making it to the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament for the first time.
The two teams will head to New Zealand for the second leg encounter which is scheduled for kick-off at QBE Stadium on 26 January.