Thai bid for World Cup slot faces delay -- FAT official
The resumption of the Asia/Pacific zone second round qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, including Thailand's three remaining games in the campaign, slated for March is facing a potential delay and could be moved to a neutral venue in June because of a fresh Covid-19 outbreak.
Patit Supaphong, secretary-general of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), said on Thursday the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is keen to finish the second round, which normally involves home-and-away games, by June.
Thailand are in Group G and are scheduled to play Indonesia at home on March 15, followed by an away match against the United Arab Emirates on June 7 before taking on Malaysia at home on June 15.
The War Elephants' chances of making it to the 12-team third and final round of qualifiers for Qatar 2022 are slim.
Thailand are in third place in their group with eight points from two wins, and equal number of draws and a loss.
Vietnam lead Group G standings with 11 points from five matches with Malaysia (nine points) in second place. The UAE have six points but have a game in hand while Indonesia have yet to earn a point in the campaign.
Patit said the FAT has received a letter from the AFC, advising each group to discuss the possibility of wrapping up the remaining games in their respective pools by June.
"We are aware that many countries, including Malaysia, have imposed strict restrictions on travel and we have also received queries from Indonesia about quarantine," said Patit. "We haven't reached a decision yet but some groups, we have been told, have agreed to play in June at neutral venues."
Return of Thai leagues
The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has agreed to allow Thai leagues 1 and 2 to resume matches next month behind closed doors.
"We will soon be discussing the details of safety protocols to be observed at all matches with the Thai leagues 1 and 2 clubs," said Korrawee Pritsananantakul, acting chairman of Thai League Co, on Thursdasy.