Asia's FIFA World Cup qualifiers postponed to 2021

The qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and the 2023 Asian Cup have been postponed to 2021 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian football

The Indian football team has three matches remaining - a home tie against Asian champion Qatar, an away game against Bangladesh and another home clash with Afghanistan.   -  AIFF

The Indian football team's remaining qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar have been postponed as FIFA and AFC announced on Wednesday that the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup have been pushed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The matches were originally scheduled to be held during October and November this year.

India was slated to host reigning Asian champion Qatar on October 8 and then take on Bangladesh away on November 12, before playing host to Afghanistan five days later.

Placed in Group E, India sits on the fourth position with three points from five matches. The Blue Tigers began their World Cup qualifiers campaign with a 2-1 loss to Oman at home and followed it up with a goalless draw away to Qatar.

The Blue Tigers then secured back-to-back 1-1 draws against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, before losing to Oman in their last qualifier game.

With three matches remaining and out of contention for a direct berth, India will aim to finish third to get a direct entry into the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

FIFA and AFC's joint statement said it would look for suitable dates next year. "In light of the current COVID-19 situation in many countries, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have jointly decided that the upcoming qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, originally scheduled to take place during the international match windows in October and November 2020, will be rescheduled to 2021," the statement read.

The statement added, "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."

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