South Korean players pose for photos in front of fans following their 8-0 victory over Sri Lanka in the teams' Group H match in the second round of the Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Hwaseong Sports Complex Main Stadium in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)
The new dates for the Asian qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup have been set, with South Korea scheduled to complete the halted second round by June next year.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced Thursday that the second round matches will be completed by June 15, 2021, and the final round will commence in September 2021.
Asian countries are currently in the second round of the World Cup qualifying campaign, which began in September last year.
Following the winter break, the competition was supposed to resume in March, but the COVID-19 outbreaks across the continent forced FIFA and the AFC to reschedule matches for later in the year.
South Korea, trying to qualify for their 10th consecutive World Cup, are in Group H, alongside North Korea, Turkmenistan, Lebanon and Sri Lanka. South Korea have played four matches, while the rest have played five matches each.
In early June, FIFA and the AFC moved second-round matches set for March and June to October and November. Then in August, they pushed those matches back further to 2021, without settling on exact dates.
There is a bit more clarity after the latest decision by the AFC.
There are eight groups of five nations in the second round. The eight group winners and the four-best runners-up will advance to the third round.
South Korea, coached by Paulo Bento, are in second place in Group H with eight points from two wins and two draws. Turkmenistan are leading the way with nine points. Lebanon and North Korea both have eight points each but trail South Korea in goal difference.
The AFC also said the final round should be finished by the end of March 2022, and the Asian and intercontinental playoff matches could be played in May or June in 2022. The World Cup is scheduled to kick off on Nov. 21, 2022. (Yonhap)