The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced on Friday the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers, which have been postponed due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, will resume this October and November.
The Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are in its second round, played by 40 teams drawn into eight groups of five to play home-and-away round-robin matches from September 5, 2019.
Vietnam are leading Group G with 11 points from five matches, followed by Malaysia on nine, Thailand on eight, the UAE — who are one game behind — on six points.
Indonesia are in the bottom of the group with zero points after five matches and stand no chance of advancing to the next qualifying round.
In March, FIFA and the AFC agreed to postpone the Asian World Cup qualifying matches in March and June due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Bangkok Post on Thursday reported that “the AFC drafted tentative revised schedules for the Asia/Oceania zone qualifying campaigns for Doha 2022.”
According to the Thailand-based English-language newspaper, their team’s three remaining Group G games will start again in October and November.
Likewise, The National, a private English-language daily newspaper published in the UAE, said that the country “will resume their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign later this year, with their remaining four Group G fixtures played across October and November.”
The UAE Football Association had confirmed the fixtures following a video meeting with the AFC on Wednesday, according to The National.
Particularly, the UAE Football Association’s general secretary Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri said the qualifiers would now be played on October 8 and 13, and November 12 and 17 against Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, respectively, the newspaper reported.
The decision was taken following consultation with FIFA.
The Chinese digital sports media platform Sina Sports also published a news story about the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers’ resumption in October and November.
The AFC on Friday night made an official announcement regarding the issue on its website.
The Asian football governing body confirmed that in consultation with FIFA, the remaining matches of Round 2 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will take place in October and November.
Particularly, Matchdays 7 and 8 are now scheduled to take place on October 8 and 13, 2020 respectively while Matchdays 9 and 10 are due to kick off on November 12 and 17, 2020.
As such, Vietnam will play Malaysia on October 13 and already-eliminated Indonesia on November 12.
The AFC also said that it will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all teams, officials, fans and stakeholders as well as government travel and medical restrictions and will notify all parties should there be a need to reassess the match schedules due to the ever-evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.