Pandemic friendlies


THE Azkals would have played Guam Thursday, Oct. 8, then against China on Nov. 12 and the Maldives on Nov. 17 for the joint Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers.

Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), however, decided to postpone both qualifiers to 2021 due to the pandemic.

While the Azkals would remain inactive for now, football fans can divert their attention to other international friendlies in the next few days.

The international window, which kicked off on Oct. 7 and runs until Oct. 15, yielded the following results: Germany vs. Turkey (3-3), Portugal vs. Spain (0-0), Italy vs. Moldova (6-0), France vs. Ukraine (7-1), Switzerland vs. Croatia (1-2) and Netherlands vs. Mexico (0-1).

Russia vs. Sweden, Belgium vs. Ivory Coast, and England vs Wales were played earlier Friday, Oct. 9.

Few teams from the AFC are seeing action: Japan, Iran, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

Iran faced Uzbekistan Thursday night, Oct. 8, and will go against Mali on Oct. 13.

Japan will battle Cameroon Friday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m., then the Ivory Coast on Oct. 13.

On Oct. 12, the UAE will face Uzbekistan, while Qatar will square off with Ghana.

Although few teams from Asia and none from Southeast Asia are engaged in friendly matches, the above fixtures are a positive sign that global football is slowly inching its way back to normalcy.

And when Fifa and the AFC do give the go signal for football to go full throttle hopefully early next year, expect the tightest of schedules as the sport plays catch-up post-pandemic.

Football fans surely won’t mind.


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