AFC to centralize World Cup qualifiers: report

TEHRAN, Jan. 02 (MNA) – The Asian Football Confederation has reportedly decided to stage all matches of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Qatar.

Arabic service of Goal has quoted informed sources as saying that the Confederation has opted for staging matches in a centralized manner in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also because of Qatar’s successful hosting of the 2020 AFC Champions League.

According to the report, the 2022 World Cup qualifiers which also acts as a qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup will be held in Qatar from late-May to mid-June, 2021.

The report also claims that the 2021 AFC Champions League would also start in May or April.

If realized, the new schedule will be bad news for the Iranian National Football Team that sits third in Group C of Qualifiers behind Iraq and Bahrain. Team Melli could lose the opportunity to host Bahrain, Iraq, and Hong Kong in decisive matches of this round.

The report comes as the dates of Iran’s matches in the qualifiers were announced in early December. According to that schedule, Dragan Skocic's team would take on Hong Kong on March 25, 2021, before facing Cambodia five days later and then lock horns with Bahrain on June 7 and Iraq on June 15.

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