Socceroos’ World Cup qualifiers likely to be postponed due to coronavirus
The Socceroos schedule for the next 12 months could be plunged into chaos with Australia's next three World Cup Qualifiers likely to be postponed until the end of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Asian Football Confederation is in talks with world football's governing body of FIFA to suspend all competitive games during the upcoming March and June international windows with several countries within the confederation hampered by international travel restrictions.
The Socceroos are likely to be out of action until the Copa America in June.Credit:Getty
The AFC discussed the proposal with its members from the east zone on Monday and will wait until meeting member nations from its west zone before announcing any changes to the schedule. A final decision is yet to be made but sources close to discussions suggest it remains highly unlikely the next round of qualifiers will proceed as planned.
Football Federation Australia declined to comment on the discussion when approached by the Herald on Wednesday however sources close to the Socceroos suggest they are already preparing for an upheaval of their schedule. The Socceroos appear set to have their March 26 qualifier against Kuwait in Perth postponed, as well as their away game against Nepal on March 31. The June 4 home qualifier against Jordan at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney is also likely to be postponed.
While all Asian nations will be significantly hampered by the likely postponement, none will feel the pinch harder than Australia who have one of the most congested schedules of all AFC members. The Socceroos are competing in the 2020 Copa America tournament in June before the Olyroos play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in late July. While Qatar are also an invitational side at the Copa America, they do not have to play any World Cup qualifiers as they are hosting the 2022 World Cup.
At this stage, the Socceroos participation in the 2020 Copa America is set to go ahead as are the Tokyo Olympic games. The International Olympic Committee released a statement on Tuesday night urging all athletes to continue preparing for the tournament to go ahead.
"The International Olympic Committee executive board today expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, taking place from 24 July to 9 August 2020," a statement read. "The IOC EB encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The IOC will keep supporting the athletes by providing the latest information and developments."
If the AFC suspends competitive games in the next two windows, it will likely hold those rescheduled games in either the September, October or November windows this year which were previously set aside for the second-round of World Cup qualifiers. The likely postponement of games won't effect any international friendlies agreed upon by two nations.
The Matildas Olympic qualifying home and away series against Vietnam is set to go ahead.
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