Nepal's remaining fixtures of World Cup Qualifiers postponedNepal was set to host Taiwan and Australia in March and Jordan in June in Kathmandu.
Nepal's remaining three home fixtures of the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification matches have been postponed owing to Covid-19 outbreak, as per a statement by the Asian Football Confederation on Tuesday.
Nepal was set to host the return leg of the tournament against Taiwan on March 26, Australia on March 31 and Jordan on June 4 at the Dashrath Stadium, Kathmandu.
"Following consultation with Asia’s member associations, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have agreed to postpone the upcoming Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as follows: Matches originally scheduled to take place during the international window of 23-31 March 2020 and 1-9 June 2020 are postponed to later dates. FIFA and the AFC will discuss further details of the postponed matches," said the statement from the Asian football governing body.
However, the teams involved could play on a mutual understanding provided the safety measures meet the required standards. "In order to support the member associations concerned, and provided that the safety of all individuals involved meets the required standards and that the member associations due to play each other mutually agree, the match(es) may still be played during the international windows of March or June 2020, but always subject to prior approval from both FIFA and the AFC," it added.
The All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) ruled out March's fixtures going on as scheduled. "There is no chance the March's fixtures against Taiwan and Australia would take place. But the June match against Jordan may be organised on a mutual understanding after analysing the situations," ANFA General Secretary, Indra Man Tuladhar said.
Previously, Nepal lost 7-0 against Kuwait in the away leg and 1-0 in the home leg played in Bhutan after the Dashrath Stadium was adjudged unfit to host the game for failing to meet the international standards set by the technical committee of AFC. Nepal had gone down 5-0 against Australia and 3-0 against Jordan in their away matches before defeating Taiwan 2-0, away from home.
FIFA and the AFC have also decided to postpone the AFC Futsal Championship which serves as the qualifier for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania set to be held from August 5-16.
The Qualifiers' matches in Nepal would be the first high-profile sporting event to be affected in the country post the Coronavirus global outbreak. Earlier, Everest Premier League, a franchise-based cricket tournament set for March 14 to 28, was postponed indefinitely owing to Covid-19. Meanwhile, ANFA has also ordered suspension of all domestic gold cups across the country owing to Covid-19.
After Covid-19 first emerged in late December last year, 113,255 cases have been recorded in 101 countries and territories, killing more than 4,000 people, according to an Agence France-Presse toll based on official sources on Monday.
Only one coronavirus case has been detected in Nepal in January but no death has occured.