Dubai: Qatar and Bangladesh will play the opening match of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qatar and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup China in more than a year with their Group E clash rescheduled for December 4.
The clash between the two teams will be the first and only Asian qualifiers match to be held in 2020, with the change in schedule approved by both Fifa and the AFC, in consultation with the two participating member associations.
A communication from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has said that as per existing rules, clubs are not obliged to release their players for the December 4 fixture that will be staged outside of Fifa’s international match calendar.
However, the good news for Qatar and Bangaldesh national teams’ coaches is that both national squads are overwhelmingly comprised of players based in their respective domestic leagues.
While Qatar will qualify automatically for the 2022 Fifa World Cup as hosts, Felix Sanchez’s side still have to chase a spot at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup to be hosted by China. Qatar defeated Japan when the continental competition was played in the UAE in 2019. However, new rules stipulate that all teams need to go through the entire qualifying process for the next competition.
Qatar is the only team in Group E with an unbeaten record - having won four and drawn one for 13 points from the five matches played so far. Oman is in second with 12 points from their four wins and a loss, Afghanistan is in third with four points followed by India (3 points) and Bangladesh (1).
The defending Asian champions had defeated Bangladesh 2-0 when the teams met at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka on October 10, last year.
Meanwhile, in a significant development, the new dates for the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qatar and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup China, were approved by the AFC Competitions Committee at their second meeting for the 2019-2023 cycle, which was held online and chaired by Dr Tran Quoc Tuan, on Wednesday.
It was agreed that all the Asian qualifiers Round 2 matches should be completed by June 15, 2021 with Match Day 7 and 8 in March 2021 and Match Day 9 and 10 in June 2021. The final round of the Asian Qualifiers should begin in September 2021, it was agreed.
The 10 match days of the Asian Qualifiers Final Round should now be finished by end-March 2022 with the Asian and Inter-Continental play-offs proposed for the Fifa Window May-June in 2022. The Asian play-off for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 is proposed as a single match.