SYDNEY: Lebanon’s home World Cup qualifier against Australia has been switched to Canberra because of the instability in the Middle East caused by the conflict in Gaza.

Australia were scheduled to host Lebanon in Group I in Sydney on March 21 and will now also stage the return match at Canberra Stadium in the nation’s capital five days later.

“I think first and foremost we wanted to be good global citizens and support our counterparts at the Lebanon Football Association,” Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said in a news release.

“For all intents and purposes this is a home game for Lebanon, despite it being played on Australian soil. Our team at Football Australia will be doing everything possible to assist them in the successful delivery of this match.”

Palestinian health authorities say more than 30,000 people have died in Gaza in the five months since Israeli forces invaded the enclave in response to a deadly attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Lebanon, who have never played at the World Cup finals, were also forced to move their previous home fixture in the second round of Asian qualifying to a neutral ground, drawing 0-0 with Palestine in the United Arab Emirates in November.