Bengaluru, June 6: India's postponed 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Qatar at home was rescheduled to October 8 after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) came up with a revised schedule.
The round two of Qatar 2022 FIFA World AFC Zone qualifier was originally scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar on March 26, but was put off, just like most of the other sports fixtures, due to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
After the Qatar tie, India then take on Bangladesh away on November 12 and then host Afghanistan on November 17.
The matches are also part of the qualification process for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup to be held in China.
"Match Days 7 and 8 are now scheduled to take place on October 8 and 13, 2020 respectively while Match Days 9 and 10 are due to kick off on November 12 and 17, 2020," an AFC statement said.
"The latest decision has been taken with a view to completing the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 by November 2020 and to commence the subsequent FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Asian Qualifiers Final Round as well as the play-off matches for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Round 3 Qualifiers by the March 2021 match dates in the FIFA International Calendar," the AFC statement added.
The AFC, which decided on the dates after discussions with FIFA, said it will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all teams, officials, fans and stakeholders as well as government travel and medical restrictions.
It said it will notify all parties should there be a need to reassess the match schedules due to the ever-evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the away leg held in Sepetember, a resolute India had held AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar to a goalless draw at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in what could be described as the most significant result in Indian football team in recent times.
India will be keen to impress in the return fixture as well, though there are already out of reckoning for a place in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, the Blue Tigers are very much in contention for a berth at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.