Two nations have withdrawn from the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship less than a week before the tournament starts in Tahiti.
New Zealand’s group opponents Samoa have pulled out, as have Papua New Guinea, forcing organisers to change the format and draw for the tournament.
The winner of the tournament will qualify for the 2024 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup to be held in the Dominican Republic.
Following the withdrawals, Oceania Football Confederation have also shortened the planned tournament by four days, with it now being staged from September 13-26, 2023.
Papua New Guinea’s withdrawal is the third time this year they have disrupted an OFC tournament.
In January, PNG pulled out of the OFC U-17 Men’s Championship after failing to submit their registration on time.
In August, the PNG U-23 team failed to arrive in Auckland in time for their game against New Zealand in the OFC Olympic qualifier tournament, forcing organisers to judge the game to have been defaulted.
The full statement released by OFC says:
“The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) can confirm that Papua New Guinea and Samoa have withdrawn from the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship, to be played from September 13-30 2023, in Tahiti.
“In line with the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2023 Regulations, Papua New Guinea Football Federation (PNGFA) and Football Federation Samoa (FFS) will be referred to the OFC Ethics and Disciplinary Committee.
“The OFC Executive Committee has now approved the change of format and redraw of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship.
“The competition will feature eight teams in two groups of 4 for the Group stage.
“The Play-off stage will consist of the play-off for fifth place and the play-off for seventh place. The knockout stage will consist of the semi-finals, the play-off for third place and the final.
“The tournament dates have changed from September 13-26 with the draw to follow tomorrow (Friday).”
New Zealand squad
Putri Ardana (Auckland United)
Laura Bennett (Melville United)
Mackenzie Bryant (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Sophie Campbell (Palmerston North Marist)
Isla Cleall-Harding (Taradale AFC)
Amber De Wit (Nomads United)
Charli Dunn (Western Springs)
Alyssha Eglinton (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Emily Humphrey (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Ela Jerez (Western Springs_
Kara McGillivray (Auckland United)
Kyra Morgan (Western Suburbs)
Brooke Neary (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Angela Pivac (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Katie Pugh (Nelson Suburbs)
Holly Robins (Wellington Phoenix Academy)
Hannah Saxon (Eastern Suburbs)
Pia Vlok (Auckland United)
Natalie Young (Hamilton Wanderers)