SEOUL– Asian qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup have been postponed from March to June, an official with the national football governing body said Thursday.
An official with the Korea Football Association (KFA) said that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) reached the decision in an online meeting held with representatives from South Korea and other participating nations on Wednesday.
Asian countries are currently in the second round of the World Cup qualifying campaign, which began in September 2019. Following the winter break, the competition was set to resume in March 2020, but the COVID-19 outbreaks across the continent forced FIFA and the AFC to reschedule matches for later in 2020 and ultimately for 2021.
South Korea, trying to qualify for their 10th consecutive World Cup, are in Group H, alongside North Korea, Turkmenistan, Lebanon and Sri Lanka. South Korea have played four matches, while the rest have played five matches each.
Coached by Paulo Bento, South Korea are in second place in their group with eight points from two wins and two draws. The Taeguk Warriors have scored 10 goals and haven’t conceded any.
Turkmenistan are leading the group with nine points. Lebanon and North Korea both have eight points each but trail South Korea in goal difference.
There are eight groups of five nations in the second round. The eight group winners and the four-best runners-up will advance to the third round.
The AFC told the KFA that two of the eight groups would have been able to play in March but not six others, including South Korea’s Group H.
Teams have up to four matches remaining, and all of them will be squeezed into June. The AFC plans to designate a central location for each group to host all matches to minimize travel.
Source: Yonhap News Agency