World Cup Qualifying

AFC Delays World Cup Qualifiers until 2021

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced a further delay to Asia’s World Cup Qualifying campaign, which is now set to resume in 2021. 

According to the latest press releases by FIFA and the AFC, the continuation of the ‘Asian Qualifiers’ – which serve as both the AFC zone for the World Cup 2022 and the Asian Cup in 2023 – will be delayed until 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This follows a previous decision in which the AFC announced that qualifiers would resume in October and November 2021, in recently scheduled FIFA days during those two months.

The competition is still currently in its Second Round, in which 40 teams (divided into eight groups of five) battle it out for 12 spots in the next round of World Cup qualifying. Four more matchdays remain of this round, which can be completed within two ‘FIFA weeks’ – before the highest 12 teams advance to the Third Round.

With this decision, it remains to be seen whether similar action will be taken with the AFC Champions League. The continent’s premier club competition could consider taking a similar route to the UEFA Champions League in Europe, holding the tournament in individual countries to reduce the need for international travel.