Oceania Nations Cup cancelled

The 2020 Oceania Nations Cup is cancelled with the Oceania Football Confederation (O.F.C) prioritising the beginning of the World Cup qualifying process.

The region’s flagship event was scrapped by the O.F.C.’s Executive Committee according to a press release issued on Tuesday, “in light of the complexities posed due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

With many of the tournament’s participating countries in COVID-19 lockdown, and international travel largely halted throughout Oceania, it was decided that the tournament would be unable to be played over the next few months, and teams would not have time to prepare.

Samoa were scheduled to compete in the postponed Qualifying Stage in the Cook Islands in March, with the tournament proper set to begin in New Zealand in June.

The delays would have made for a cramped international calendar, with 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying for the region understood to commence this September.

Other O.F.C. tournaments like the Champions League and U-17 Women’s Championship remain postponed indefinitely, after the federation announced on March 9th that all their football activities across the Pacific would be suspended until at least May 6th.

O.F.C. General Secretary Franck Castillo said in the release that the cancellation of the Nations Cup was a disappointing reality of the COVID-19 situation.

“While the Nations Cup is the flagship tournament for men’s football in OFC, the health and safety of the football community is our top priority,” he said.

“With that in mind, it was only fair that our Executive Committee came to this conclusion as we continue our fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.

“We all want football to return as soon as possible but we will only do so when it is safe for everybody involved.”

The Nations Cup had presented a real opportunity for Samoan football to continue a strong run of success including a silver medal at the 2019 Pacific Game’s women’s tournament and a historic showing from club Lupe o le Soaga at the Champions League group stage in Tahiti in February.

Many of the Lupe squad that achieved Samoa’s first ever win in competition history (4-3 over Fijian powerhouse BA) figured to be a part of the national team for their Nations Cup campaign.

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