— Published 24 March 2022

COVID messes up in Oceania

World Cup

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt world football. FIFA has announced that it has been forced to change the format of the Oceania Zone qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It is currently taking place in Doha. The reason for this is the withdrawal of two of the countries originally entered, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu, whose squads have been decimated by a wave of COVID-19 infections. The two teams had been placed in Pool A, along with Tahiti and the Solomon Islands. FIFA decided that the Cook Islands and Vanuatu matches did not take place. As a result, Tahiti and the Solomon Islands advance directly to the semi-finals. The two teams will play a single match on Thursday 24 March, with extra time and possible penalties, to determine the winner and runner-up of the group. The winner of the Oceania Zone tournament will not qualify directly for the 2022 World Cup. They will still have to meet, and beat, the fourth-place finisher from the CONCACAF zone in an intercontinental play-off scheduled for 13 or 14 June.