Start of African World Cup qualifiers postponed to September
The start of the African group stage qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup have been postponed for the second time and will now start in September instead of June, FIFA has announced after citing “current disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” for the decision.
A clampdown by CAF on poor stadium facilities across the continent have contributed to the delay with a list of approved stadiums for the first two rounds of qualifiers leaving a quarter of the 40 teams competing for places in Qatar 2022 without a venue to play their home matches.
Those affected include Senegal, who competed at the last World Cup in Russia in 2018, and Mali, who were among the top seeded teams for the preliminaries.
Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Niger and Sierra Leone have all also been effected, but a delay would give them time to make the necessary improvements.
The shift in calendar means there will be two rounds of qualifiers in each of the FIFA international windows in September, October and November this year.
The 10 group winners will then advance to the final playoff stage in March, which is contested on a home and away basis, where the five victors will earn their place in Qatar.
Kenya’s Harambee Stars, who are in Pool E with Uganda, Rwanda and Mali, were due to play two matches next month with one Group winner set to secure a place in the final phase of the qualifiers.
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