Oceania Futsal Cup 2023: Excitement Builds as the Solomon Islands and New Zealand Aim for FIFA World Cup Qualification

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No matter the outcome, history will be made at this year’s Oceania Football Confederations Futsal Cup!!


This year’s Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Futsal Cup is the most exciting, anticipated tournament since Australia left the Confederation in 2004. Why, you ask? Well, Australia dominated the region, winning the competition four times in a row. Australia left the confederation/ competition but re-entered in 2013 due to an invitation, and they quickly enforced their dominance, winning again. Australia has not taken part in the competition since, and the Solomon Islands became the powerhouse of Oceania Futsal, qualifying for the World Cup in 2008, 2016, and 2021.

Last year, however, their powerhouse status was challenged by New Zealand, who won their first-ever OFC Futsal Cup. Now, as holders, the country is hosting the competition with a vibrant futsal community. They will have the fans behind them as they seek to make history and qualify for their first-ever FIFA Futsal World Cup.


Solomon Islands’ Determined Preparation:

The Solomon Islands, once dominant in the region, have been preparing diligently for the upcoming challenge. With new head coach Damon Shaw from England leading the team, the Solomon Islands aim to secure their spot in the FIFA Futsal World Cup.

Oceania Futsal Cup 2023: Excitement Builds as the Solomon Islands and New Zealand Aim for FIFA World Cup Qualification

Solomon Islands National Futsal team – Melanesian Futsal Cup winners 2023 – Source of the image: Solomon Islands FA Facebook page

The nation took part in the Melanesian Futsal Cup, and though they faced a tough match against Vanuatu in their group, they learned from the experienced and smashed them in the final, winning the competition. The team went on to further challenge themselves with games against Vietnam, losing both 5-0. Then travelled to Australia, where they competed in the PacificAus Sports International Futsal Series.

Oceania Futsal Cup 2023: Excitement Builds as the Solomon Islands and New Zealand Aim for FIFA World Cup Qualification

Source of the image: Solomon Islands Football Association Facebook page

The PacificAus Sports Futsal Series was the result of a partnership with the Australian Government and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, through PacificAus Sports. The opening match was a historic draw for the Solomon Islands, but Australia would go on to win the following two fixtures.

Now, the Solomon Islands are preparing for the Continental Futsal Cup, hosted by Thailand, and they have been drawn into a tough group to win against their hosts and Myanmar. Myanmar won their group last year in the AFF Futsal Championship which included Vietnam. The nation went on to finish fourth place in the competition.

In anticipation of the draw, we spoke with Damon Shaw, who shared his excitement for the upcoming OFC Futsal Cup World Cup qualifiers and the potential to secure another spot in the FIFA Futsal World Cup. Shaw emphasized that the event in New Zealand would undoubtedly be fantastic, and he believes the host nation will use this opportunity to showcase its capabilities for future global tournaments. For Shaw, qualifying for the World Cup would mark a significant personal achievement, but what excites him the most is the prospect of his players’ growth and success.

He’s confident they will be well-prepared and eager to compete, understanding that this journey is not only about securing a place in the World Cup but also about creating life-changing opportunities for his players. Shaw is committed to working tirelessly to give them the best chance at qualifying and extending their journey into 2024.

With New Zealand being the current holder of the OFC Futsal Cup, Shaw acknowledges the challenge they will present to his team. He expects them to be highly motivated, especially with the advantage of playing on home soil. The mental aspect of the game will be crucial in managing the pressure, which is why Shaw believes that facing teams ranked higher will help his squad learn to handle such situations.

He eagerly looks forward to the Continental Futsal Cup in Thailand, where they can gain valuable experience from tough opponents. While New Zealand will undoubtedly be well-trained and fit, Shaw reassures that his team will be equally prepared. He understands that there might be factors beyond their control during the qualifiers, but he believes that the tournament will be an enjoyable and exciting challenge. With determination and the current trajectory of his team, Shaw is confident they will approach the qualifiers with a strong sense of self-assurance.

Should Damon lead the Solomon Islands to the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup, he will make history. Damon has the opportunity to be the first English Futsal coach/ British Futsal coach to ever lead a futsal nation to the pinnacle of world futsal.

Related article: Living the Dream: Interview with Damon Shaw, Head Coach of the Solomon Islands Futsal Team

Facing the Challenge of New Zealand:

New Zealand preparations as far as we are aware have yet to take place, we reached out to Marvin Eakins, the nation’s head coach to find out how his team has been preparing. What he thought of the draw. And what qualification to the World Cup and defending the OFC Futsal Cup would mean to him, his players, his staff, New Zealand Football, and the Kiwi Futsal Community.

Marvin informed us that the journey began right after the last qualifiers, with the implementation of a rigorous national training programme for local-based players. Simultaneously, some of the team members honed their skills abroad, adding diverse experiences to their arsenal in England and at the World University Futsal Championship. While others played in the national league which was broadcast on Sky Sports in New Zealand.

Oceania Futsal Cup 2023: Excitement Builds as the Solomon Islands and New Zealand Aim for FIFA World Cup Qualification

Tessa Leong, Hannah Kraakman, Dayna Manak, Jordi Ditfort, Logan Wisnewski, Kyle Wisnewski and Tom McGowan, were crowned champions of England’s National Futsal Series after winning both the men’s and women’s Grand Finals with Bloomsbury Futsal at St. George’s Park. Source of the image: NZFootball Instagram

The preparation process, however, has not been without its challenges. Eakins expressed his frustration at the difficulty in securing international fixtures as part of their readiness. Despite this setback, the team remains focused and resolute, ready to face whatever lies ahead.

With the draw now in their hands, there is an air of excitement and anticipation among the squad. Eakins emphasizes that the region’s competition has reached new heights, with five or six teams standing a real chance at claiming victory. The upcoming qualifiers promise an enthralling challenge for all involved.

In a historic move, as mentioned, New Zealand will be hosting the qualifiers for the first time ever. This presents a unique opportunity to showcase top-tier futsal games to the passionate local community. Eakins acknowledges the indispensable role played by the fervent supporters in the development of the players, making the hosting rights even more special.

Oceania Futsal Cup 2023: Excitement Builds as the Solomon Islands and New Zealand Aim for FIFA World Cup Qualification

Ford Futsal Superleague broadcast on sky sports in New Zealand – Source of image: New Zealand Football website

As the qualifying event inches closer, Marvin Eakins and his team remain steadfast in their dedication and determination to represent their nation with pride. The futsal community eagerly awaits the outcome of the qualifiers, cheering on their homegrown talents as they take on their neighbours and Oceania’s powerhouse, the Solomon Islands. With unwavering support and a strong sense of unity, New Zealand’s futsal community stands ready to witness history in the making.

The Oceania Futsal Cup begins with two difficult opening matches for New Zealand and the Solomon Islands. New Zealand kicks off the competition against Vanuatu, while the Solomon Islands face New Caledonia in their first game. Both matches are crucial and will be closely watched. Each may set the tone for the entire competition. The results will play a significant role in determining how the teams progress and adapt their strategies to improve their performances as the tournament unfolds.

The Oceania Futsal Cup draw has been conducted. The format of the competition splits the eight participating nations into two groups. The tournament will take place from October 1-7, 2023, at Papakura’s Bruce Pulman Arena:

Group A

  • New Zealand
  • Vanuatu
  • Fiji
  • Tonga


Group B

  • Solomon Islands
  • New Caledonia
  • Tahiti
  • Samoa


No matter the outcome, history will be made at this year’s Oceania Football Confederations Futsal Cup. The excitement and anticipation surrounding the tournament are at an all-time high. While the Solomon Islands has emerged as the region’s powerhouse, claiming their spot in previous FIFA Futsal World Cups, New Zealand’s recent victory in the OFC Futsal Cup has added a new twist to the competition.

The preparations of both teams, led by coaches Damon Shaw and Marvin Eakins, are well underway, with a determined focus on securing their place in the upcoming FIFA Futsal World Cup. The road to qualification will not be without challenges, but both coaches exude confidence in their teams’ abilities to rise to the occasion.

For Damon Shaw and the Solomon Islands, qualifying for the 2024 FIFA Futsal World Cup would be an unprecedented achievement. Notably, Shaw could become the first English/British Futsal coach to lead a nation to the pinnacle of world futsal, marking a historic moment for him and his team.

Meanwhile, Marvin Eakins and New Zealand are ready to defend their OFC Futsal Cup title on home soil. With a passionate futsal community supporting them, the team aims to make their mark and showcase their capabilities on the international stage.

As the Oceania Futsal Cup unfolds, the opening matches will set the tone for an intense and closely-watched competition. Each team’s performance in the group stage will determine their path to victory or improvement throughout the tournament.

With the draw already conducted and the groups set, the countdown begins for the action-packed tournament. The competition will take place from October 1 to 7, 2023, at Papakura’s Bruce Pulman Arena. Fans from across the region eagerly await to witness history in the making. Celebrating the passion, dedication, and talent of Oceania’s finest futsal teams. No matter the outcome, this year’s Oceania Football Confederations Futsal Cup promises to be an unforgettable event. An event that will leave a lasting impact on the sport’s development in the region.

Here is the OFC Futsal Cup Final 2022 between New Zealand and the Solomon Islands:

Author of article

Stephen McGettigan was born in the Republic of Ireland but grew up in Belfast. He is the founder of Futsal Focus and a Football Industries MBA graduate from the University of Liverpool Management School. Stephen has worked in the Football and Futsal industries for 15 years.

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