The continent’s football ruling body has postponed the opening qualifier group matches of World Cup qualifiers for African countries, citing the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
African nations should have started their chase for their spot at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in June but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in consultation with the World Association Footfall governing body (FIFA), announced the change in the expected kick-off.
“The CFA Emergency Committee, in consultation with FIFA decided to postpone the CAF qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 that were due to played in June 2021 after taking into consideration the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to ensure optimal playing conditions for all participating teams.
CAF is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows.” CAF said in a communication sent to its members association on Thursday, May 6, 2021.
The qualifiers for African countries will now take place in the windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022.
A total of 40 African countries are bidding for one of five places for the continent at the World Cup finals in Qatar next year.
There are 10 groups of 4 nations with only the pool winners progressing to a final play-offs phase to decide teams going to Qatar.
The delay will now allow several countries ample time to upgrade their stadia to a standard that will permit them to host matches rather than having to play outside their borders.