By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
Asian qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup set for this fall will instead be played in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) jointly announced Wednesday the continental qualifying matches, scheduled to take place during FIFA international match windows in October and November this year, will be rescheduled to 2021.
“With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches,” the two organizations’ joint statement read.
Asian countries are currently in the second round of the World Cup qualifying campaign, which began in September last year. Following the winter break, the competition was supposed to resume in March, but the COVID-19 outbreaks across the continent forced FIFA and the AFC to reschedule matches for later in the year.