New Zealand’s bid to qualify for the men’s football tournament at the 2016 Olympic Games appears in tatters after the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) ruled they fielded an ineligible player in qualifying.
The OFC announced on Sunday that Vanuatu’s protest against the use of an ineligible player by New Zealand’s Under 23 team in their semi-final win on Friday had been upheld.
While the OFC did not name the player, New Zealand Football (NZF) later confirmed in their own statement that the protest focused on South Africa-born left-back Deklan Wynne.
The final of Oceania’s Olympic qualifying tournament, which has been held as part of the quadrennial Pacific Games, is set to be held at 18:00 local time (08:00 GMT) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sunday but NZF have not given up hope of playing in the match.
“We strongly refute the ruling regarding the ineligibility of the player in question and we will be challenging this decision,” NZF CEO Andy Martin said.
New Zealand defeated Vanuatu 2-0 on Friday but the OFC have ruled a 3-0 result the other way, with the latter set to face Fiji in the final that will decide which team represents Oceania at Rio 2016.
Wynne, 20, has previously played for New Zealand’s senior team, as well as starting all four matches for his adopted country at the FIFA U20 World Cup earlier this year.
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