Asian World Cup qualifiers moved from China to Sharjah

Several World Cup football qualifying matches scheduled to be played in China will be moved to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, after coronavirus infections in the Syria and Maldives teams, officials said Tuesday.

Seven Asian qualifying Group A fixtures involving China, Syria, Maldives, the Philippines and Guam are affected, playing further havoc with the already heavily disrupted Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The Chinese Football Association originally said on Monday the fixtures would be moved to Dubai, but the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) clarified Tuesday they would take place in neighbouring Sharjah.

The match schedule will be confirmed after discussions with the participating teams, the AFC said in a statement.

The games were supposed to be played over the next fortnight in a biosecure "bubble" in the Chinese city of Suzhou.

According to China's Titan Sports, the Maldives and Syria are in Dubai and were denied permission to depart for China.

Maldives striker Ali Ashfaq tweeted that he had tested positive and won't be playing in the qualifiers.

China, who smashed Guam 7-0 on Sunday, were scheduled to face the Maldives on Thursday, while Syria were to face the Maldives on June 7.

China are second in the group behind Syria and are fighting to keep their World Cup hopes alive. The games double as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.