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OFC qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup: favorite teams and players to watch

The OFC qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar will begin on March 22.   A total of 35 teams will begin their journey to the big dream, but none of them has a guaranteed place in the world’s biggest sporting event. In fact, no team from Oceania has been present at the World Cup since 2010. The fact that a total of 0.5 slots (i.e. 1 inter-confederation play-off slot) in the final tournament is available for teams from this confederation does not help much. Still, despite the tough road ahead, there are a few teams that stand out in oceanic soccer and could qualify. Also, within this exotic and strange soccer there are some interesting players worth watching.

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New Zealand is undoubtedly the top favorite to qualify, at least, for the intercontinental play-offs. They were the last Oceania team to qualify for the World Cup. They were present in South Africa 2010 after beating Bahrain in the intercontinental play-off. They also played in the last two intercontinental play-offs for Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018, but failed in their attempts to beat Mexico and Peru. Nevertheless, they are the strongest team in this part of the world. They are currently the highest-ranked Oceania team in the FIFA ranking (118th). In addition, they won the last edition of the OFC Nations Cup (in 2016).

But although it may seem hard to believe, Oceania soccer goes beyond New Zealand. Tahiti will try to surprise the All Whites and emulate the feat they achieved in 2012, when they won the Nations Cup and earned a place in the 2013 Confederations Cup. On the other hand, Solomon Islands are the second highest ranked Oceanic team (141st) and will try to make history. Fiji and Vanuatu have shown great progress in their soccer, attending U-20 World Cups and Olympic Games, so they have the right to dream of a place in Qatar 2022.

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The most outstanding player is from New Zealand and his name is Chris Wood. A forward with a marvelous physique who currently plays for Burnley, a Premier League team. Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea can show off David Browne who plays for Finnish team HJK Helsinki. Mitch Cooper, shines in the Australian league and is Vanuatu’s star player.

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