The first phase began at the 2007Pacific Games in Samoa, with the football tournament doubling as an OFC World Cup qualifying competition. The gold, silver, and bronze medallists (New Caledonia, Fiji, and Vanuatu, respectively) advanced to the second phase.
The three medallists joined seeded side New Zealand in a home-and-away round-robin tournament on FIFA match dates in 2007 and 2008, also acting as the 2008 OFC Nations Cup.
There were some confusion as to how the final qualifier for the playoff against an AFC nation would be selected. The FIFA website initially indicated that the top two sides from the round robin would advance to a play-off which would determine the qualifier, but the OFC articles did not include this round (with the round-robin winner advancing automatically). Later FIFA articles confirmed that the round-robin winner would advance automatically.
The 2007 South Pacific Games held the first round. The draw was held on 12 June 2007 in Auckland, New Zealand. Tuvalu were not members of FIFA and so would have been unable to qualify for the World Cup had they proceeded to the OFC Nations Cup stage. It was not even clear whether Tuvalu would be eligible to advance that far had they finished in a medal position, as the OFC press release for the second stage draw stated that "nine eligible member associations battle it out for the gold, silver and bronze medals that will hand them a berth in a Stage Two round robin home and away playoff with New Zealand" - implying one nation (Tuvalu) would not be eligible. This question was rendered moot, however, as Tuvalu finished last in their table.
Papua New Guinea, having initially entered the 2010 World Cup and indicated their intention to enter the South Pacific Games, were involved in a dispute with their sporting authorities and failed to meet the official accreditation deadline for the South Pacific Games. This meant they were effectively disqualified from the World Cup.