Solomon Islands beat the Cook Islands 2-0 in the opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Oceania Qualifers. Photo: OFC Media
There are concerns the withdrawal of some teams from the Oceania FIFA World Cup Qualifying tournament will give some teams an easier path into the knockout rounds.
Sunday’s third round of matches in Qatar were cancelled after the Vanuatu and Cook Islands squads returned a number of positive cases of Covid-19.
Vanuatu were also unable to play their opening round
match in Group A against Tahiti and have since withdrawn from the competition,
with the top two in each group advancing to the playoffs.
On Friday a number of Cook Islands players tested
positive for Covid-19. The national side had to forfeit its match against
Tahiti supposed to be played yesterday.
four teams in Group B have so far returned negative Covid tests and Papua New
Guinea defender Alwin Komolong said it was not an even playing field.
us we're like it's a bit unfair that the other pool it will probably end up
that Solomon Islands and Tahiti will basically just walk on into the semi
finals,” he said.
just basically doing what we do. We're not really affected too much by what's
happening in the other pool, but I think OFC have quite a dilemma on their
hands with how the tournament has played out with regards to Covid.”
PNG Kapuls are staying in the same Doha hotel as the Cook Islands and Solomon
Islands squads, but Komolong said they all returned a negative rapid antigen
test on Sunday morning.
night after the game we saw a few of the Cooks but we didn’t really talk to
them or came in contact with them. Literally the next day we found they have
Covid and were positive and ever since then in the hotel we've all kept to
ourselves more or less.
it happened the OFC basically have started testing almost every other day.
Masked everything – they’re policing quite a few things now which they weren’t
doing before this tournament started so it’s all a bit reactionary right now,”
had some freedom in the hotel: we can go to the gym, the pool, the recovery
sauna and that kinda stuff but every since the Covid thing happened they've
come down with staff saying we can't go to the pool, we can't be in big groups,
we can’t go to the sauna.
other day (striker) Tommy Semmy put a photo online when we were doing recovery
in the ice-bath and the spa pools and they sort of questioned that. We had to
say it's recovery and there's nothing wrong with it.”
coach Flemming Serritslev said they already had a number of protocols in place
to minimise the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak in camp.
long as it's not in our group it’s not a worry at all about us,” he said.
have taken very good care. We have been living a very safe life - only been
living in our own bubble so we have done what we could do to avoid coming in
this situation that Vanuatu and the Cook Islands was in.”
Qatar health rules the positive cases must isolate for at least seven days,
meaning any major outbreak would likely end a team's participation in the
all depending does it hit one player (or) does it hit three or four players -
it's impossible to say,” Serritslev explained. “Right now, I just hope that we
will not be hit by so many players that we will not be able to line up a team.”
teams from Groups A and B will advance to the semi-finals of the OFC
qualifiers, with the eventual winners playing off against the fourth placed
team from the CONCACAF confederation for a berth at the World Cup Finals.