The Solomon Islands national football team will progress to the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Oceania Qualifiers after Vanuatu withdraws due to COVID-19.
Vanuatu was scheduled to play the Solomon Islands on March 20, 2022 (Day 3 of the competition), but has since withdrawn. Vanuatu had to forfeit their first game against Tahiti as well.
Vanuatu’s decision comes after tests on March 17, 2022, which revealed positive cases of COVID-19 in the majority of Vanuatu’s team ahead of their match against Tahiti.
The Oceania Football Confederation has confirmed that Vanuatu has informed FIFA of their withdrawal from the tournament due to the vast majority of their squad testing positive for COVID-19.
The Vanuatu Football Federation has confirmed to FIFA that it will be unable to play its upcoming FIFA World Cup qualification matches due to the applicable protocol and the seven-day quarantine requirement.
FIFA has forwarded all pertinent information to its Disciplinary Committee. Vanuatu’s FIFA World Cup qualification matches have been declared null and void until further notice.
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In addition to Vanuatu’s withdrawal, a number of Cook Islands players have tested positive for COVID-19 and will be unable to field a team on Match Day 3. The Cook Islands was supposed to play Tahiti on March 20, but they didn’t have enough players because most of them tested positive for COVID-19.
Solomon Islands and Tahiti will almost certainly face the winner and runner-up of Pool B in the semi-finals.