FORMER Oxford United coach Des Buckingham has steered New Zealand to the brink of Olympic qualification.

The under 23 side will face the Solomon Islands in the final of the Oceania qualifying competition in Fiji, which kicks off at 4am (BST) on Saturday.

Buckingham, from Cowley, earned plaudits for the Junior All Whites' displays at the Under 20 World Cup this summer.

And now the under 23 side have won all four matches so far in their tournament, including a 6-1 thrashing of Fiji in yesterday's semi-finals.

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Before the competition, Buckingham admitted reaching the Tokyo Olympics next year would be a dream come true.

He told the Oxford Mail: "There’s not many people, whether you’re an athlete or a coach, get the chance to become an Olympian.

"You may not get the opportunity to do something like that ever again.

"That’s something which is hugely exciting on the horizon, but there’s a big bridge to cross first."