News - Afghanistan
Afghanistan's Football Federation (AFF) officials said on Saturday that the country is not in a position to host World Cup Qualifying matches due to security issues and will instead host it's group matches in other countries.
The matches will kick-off in June and Syria will be the first team Afghanistan needs to host.
Afghanistan will also play Japan, Singapore and Cambodia in Group E. This is the first time the Afghan football team will play in a World Cup qualifier.
"We wanted to go to Iran to host our matches because there are many Afghans there and the weather is good, but in the meantime Iraq and Syria have decided to play in Iran so we are trying to see if we can host matches in the UAE or Tajikistan," the Secretary General of the Afghan Football Federation (AFF) Sayed Ali Reza Aqazada said.
Before the World Cup draw, AFF officials said that they would host friendly matches in the region, but now officials have decided otherwise.
"We had agreed to hold friendly matches, but after the draw with Japan and Syria in the same group, the technical staff postponed the matches. These matches might not be held this year," Aqazada said.
He said however that other friendly matches have been lined up with Maldives, Bangladesh and Laos.
In other news, 40 teams for the second round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers have been divided into eight groups with five teams per group.
The eight group winners and the four best second-placed teams will advance to Asia's final FIFA World Cup qualifying round. These teams will also qualify directly for the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.