New Zealand have advanced to the Rio 2016 Olympic women’s football tournament after the second leg of their Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) qualifying tie against Papua New Guinea was officially cancelled - with their opponents set to be sanctioned by world governing body FIFA.
It was expected that the tie would be called off after the Papua New Guinea team had visa problems when trying to travel from their capital Port Moresby to Auckland, where New Zealand were hosting the second leg.
The Oceania Football Confederation confirmed that the visitors had withdrawn "when the squad did not receive the required visas to enter New Zealand for the return match.”
New Zealand, however, would have almost certainly qualified anyway after winning the first leg 7-1.
The Kiwis will now play in their third straight Olympic women’s tournament and will be hoping to build upon their quarter-final appearance at London 2012, where they lost to the eventual gold medallists the United States.
“FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Papua New Guinea Football Association after the withdrawal of their women’s national team from the second leg of the OFC qualifying play-off match for the Women's Olympic Football Tournament,” a spokesperson told insidethegames.
“The second leg match has been cancelled and as such New Zealand have advanced to the Women's Olympic Football Tournament as OFC’s representative.”
Following the cancellation of the second leg, New Zealand opted to play a friendly match against an invitational team at the QBE Stadium.
Braces for Amber Hearn, Aimee Phillips and an effort from Rosie White gave the hosts a 5-0 victory.
They will now continue their preparations for the Olympic tournament, where they are set to join current qualifiers Colombia, France, Germany and South Africa in Rio, along with hosts Brazil and Olympic debutantes Zimbabwe.
The women's qualification comes after New Zealand's men's team were thrown out of Olympic qualification for fielding an ineligible player during their qualification event, the 2015 Pacific Games in Port Moresby.
Fiji gained the spot at Rio 2016, with their men due to appear in the football tournament for the first time.