World Cup trophyGetty Images

Caf confirms new dates for postponed 2022 World Cup qualifiers

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has announced the new international calendar for the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifying matches.

African countries were meant to commence their race to Qatar in June 2021, albeit, the continent’s football ruling body shifted it citing ‘current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic’ as the reason.

Caf, in a statement released on Thursday, disclosed the World Cup qualification games will begin in September 2021.

Article continues below

“The Caf Emergency Committee, in consultation with Fifa, decided to postpone the Caf qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 that were due to be played in June 2021 after taking into consideration the current challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the need to ensure the optimal playing conditions for all participating teams,” the statement read.

“The qualifiers will now take place in the existing windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022.

“Caf is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of Covid-related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows. Full details on the updated match schedule will be provided in due course.”

The third round will see the 10 group winners from the second round drawn into five home-and-away ties. The winners of each tie will produce Africa's five representatives for the 2022 World Cup.

The 22nd edition of the global football showpiece remains unmoved despite the effects of the coronavirus on football activities and will be the first World Cup to be held around the end of the year, between November 21 and December 18.

In 2015, key football officials met in Doha to discuss a number of options following fears a summer event would endanger the health of players and fans.

From findings, summer temperatures in Qatar can exceed 40C while those in November and December drop to around 25C.

France are the reigning world champions, having defeated Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 edition staged at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.

Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana’s quarter-final finish at 1994 (hosted by the United States of America), 2002 (South Korea and Japan) plus 2010 (South Africa) editions remain Africa’s best performances ever since the commencement of the quadrennial football fiesta at Uruguay 1930.