The Asian Zone World Cup 2022 qualifying matches scheduled to be played at a centralised Chinese venue will be moved elsewhere owing to coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Monday the Group A matches would be relocated to ‘a neutral venue, which will be decided and announced in the coming days’.
“The decision was made due to the mounting challenges faced by several participating teams in travelling to China,” a statement said, DPA reported.
Group A consists of China, Syria, the Maldives, Philippines and Guam and the remaining matches were to be played in Suzhou between June 3 and June 15.
Due to the coronavirus outbreaks in Syria and the Maldives, their teams would have had to go into strict quarantine in China, making games at the scheduled dates impossible.
The AFC said it remained committed to complete the group games by June 15. The UAE are reportedly a possible new host.
Syria lead the group with a maximum 15 points, five ahead of China. Only the first-ranked team from the eight groups reach the final qualifying stage.
All groups in the Asian Zone are completing the second qualifying stage at centralised venues. North Korea pulled out of their campaign ahead of the final games in South Korea, citing coronavirus concerns.