Taupo residents are encouraged to come along and support New Zealand’s attempt to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics at the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Men’s U23 Olympic Qualifying Tournament at Owen Delany Park 16 to 24 March.
The seven best football teams from the Pacific will compete at Taupo’s Owen Delany Park for the one OFC spot at the London 2012 Olympics. It will be the first time since 1996 that a New Zealand based OFC tournament has been held outside of Auckland.
The New Zealand squad, which will be named early next week, will play in Group B along with Papua New Guinea and Tonga. Group A will comprise the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and American Samoa.
Pool matches will be held on Friday 16, Sunday 18 and Tuesday 20 March, with games at 12:00pm, 2:30pm and 5:00pm. The semi-finals will be held on Thursday 22 March at 1.00pm and 4.00pm, and the bronze final and final will be held on Saturday 24 March at 1.00pm and 4.00pm respectively. For the full match schedule, including all New Zealand matches, visit www.greatlaketaupo.com/football
Tickets can be purchased from the gate on game days and are $10 for adults and $5 for teenagers and over 65’s. Ages 12 and under can enter for free.
“Hosting this tournament is a huge honour and we want to do our very best to ensure the teams feel welcome and things go smoothly for the tournament organisers, New Zealand Football,” says District Events Manager, Nick Reader.
“We’d love to see lots of locals come along and support this tournament. No doubt many of these young New Zealand players will go on to become future All Whites. It’s a great opportunity, for school groups especially, to come along and witness their future heroes in action.”
Football New Zealand CEO, Grant McKavanagh, says New Zealand’s chances of qualifying have been given a significant boost given the team’s home advantage. “Playing on New Zealand soil is definitely a huge advantage, so we’re very pleased to be coming to Taupo.”
The OFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers were held in Tonga this week with Papua New Guinea topping the tables. They will play New Zealand later this month in a home-and-away play-off for a spot at the London Olympics.