World Cup qualifiers set to be moved from China to Dubai over Covid-19 cases

Members of the Maldives and Syria camps had reportedly returned positive Covid-19 results

China fans cheer before the recent World Cup qualifier against Guam at the match Suzhou Olympic Sports Center, Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Reuters
China fans cheer before the recent World Cup qualifier against Guam at the match Suzhou Olympic Sports Center, Suzhou, Jiangsu province. Reuters

China look set to play their remaining matches in the second round of World Cup qualification in Dubai after two of the teams in their group reported Covid-19 infections.

On Monday, the country’s football association announced the news that the outstanding Group A matches, originally to take place in China, would be transferred to the UAE. Members of the Maldives and Syria camps had reportedly returned positive Covid-19 results.

"In view of the recent epidemic infections in the Maldives and Syrian national football teams ... they must be strictly quarantined upon entry and cannot participate in the games as scheduled," the Chinese Football Association said.

"According to recommendations from the AFC [Asian Football Confederation], the Chinese FA agreed that the remaining qualifying matches ... will not be held in Suzhou and will be transferred to Dubai and held there," it added.

China, currently second in the group, are scheduled to resume their campaign against the Maldives on Thursday. They then face the Philippines on June 9 before concluding the second round against group leaders Syria on June 15. Guam, bottom of the standings, make up the group.

Earlier this year, the Asian Football Confederation decided to use centralised hubs for each of the eight groups. The qualifiers have been repeatedly postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated: May 31, 2021 12:25 PM

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