Wellington: New Zealand Football (NZF) chief Andy Martin said Tuesday he was shocked at the country`s dramatic late ejection from Olympic qualifiers and would appeal the decision.
The nation`s footballers were thrown out of qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player, just hours before they were due to contest Sunday`s tournament final at the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea.
Martin said he was determined to pursue all avenues to ensure New Zealand had a chance to reach the Rio Olympics next year.
"It`s a shame that it`s come to this," he told reporters. "We`ve gone there and acted in good faith... and we`ve been broadsided late on."
The problem arose when Vanuatu questioned South African-born fullback Deklan Wynne`s eligibility after losing 2-0 to New Zealand in Friday`s semi-final.
The Oceania Football Confederation found the 20-year-old should not have been playing and overturned the result to give Vanuatu victory, eliminating New Zealand.
Under FIFA rules designed to prevent poaching of top youngsters, foreign-born players with no ties to a country cannot represent it unless they have lived there for five years after the age of 18.
Martin said Wynne moved to New Zealand with his family as a 14-year old and had risen through the country`s youth system, leaving no doubt about his Kiwi credentials.
"This is hugely embarrassing for New Zealand football and for football (generally)," he said.
Martin said FIFA examined Wynne`s documentation before he played in the recent Under-20 World Cup and found no issues.
He said Pacific Games organisers had also cleared the player before he took part in the PNG tournament, which doubled as an Olympic qualifier.
Fiji ended up booking a place in Rio after defeating Vanuatu in the final.
Previously, New Zealand had qualified as the Oceania representative at the Olympics ever since Australia moved to the Asian confederation after the 2004 Games in Greece.
At both the Beijing and London Olympics they lost two and drew one game and failed to progress from pool play.