KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The fixtures backlog created by pandemic-enforced travel restrictions is providing an increasing number of headaches in the qualifying competition for next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar.

Preliminary matches in the complex Asian section, put on ice since November 2019, could be postponed further until June.
This is the awkward prospect raised after the Saudi Arabian federation announcement the postponement of its two matches against Malaysia and Indonesia, initially scheduled for the end of March. New dates have been scheduled for June.
Forty nations involved in the eight groups are all increasingly concerned.  If the outstanding second round matches can be played in June then the third round could go ahead in September as planned.
But, as with everything concerning the Covid-19 crisis, this cannot be guaranteed.
AFC statement
Update on upcoming Asian Qualifiers in March and June

Taking into consideration the existing travel and quarantine restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across the Continent and following a process of close consultation with Asia’s Member Associations, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA have jointly agreed to postpone the majority of the upcoming Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™.

The latest match schedule for Match Days 7 and 8 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2, which is scheduled to take place on March 25 and 30, 2021 is as follows:

Group Date and time Match Venue
B  30 March 2021
 Nepal vs Australia  Dashrath Stadium,
D  25 March 2021
 Saudi Arabia vs Yemen  Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh
F  25 March 2021
 Tajikistan vs Mongolia  Republican Central Stadium, Dushanbe
 30 March 2021
 Mongolia vs Japan  Fukuda Denshi Arena, Chiba, Japan

The AFC continues to place the health and safety of players, teams, match officials and all stakeholders as the highest priority and will work together with its Member Associations to closely monitor the situation in the region.

As part of efforts to ensure the safe and successful completion of the Asian Qualifiers, the AFC will open the invitation to Member Associations to host their respective groups in a centralised format and will confirm and communicate in due course the match schedule for the June 2021 international window, where the centralised qualifying matches are scheduled to take place from 31 May to June 15, 2021.