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(LEAD) S. Korea's Olympic football qualifying matches rescheduled for June

All News 18:59 March 09, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead; UPDATES with new schedules, details)

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Postponed Olympic women's football qualifying matches between South Korea and China have been rescheduled for June in light of the coronavirus outbreaks in both countries.

The Korea Football Association (KFA) said Monday it was informed by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that the home-and-home playoff series between the nations will be played on June 4 and 9. Venues will be determined later.

The winning team, based on the aggregate score after the two matches, will qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The women's football tournament there is scheduled to kick off on July 22.

In this file photo from Feb. 9, 2020, South Korean players celebrate their 3-0 victory over Vietnam in their Group A match in the third round of the Asian qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Island. (Yonhap)

These matches were initially scheduled for March 6 in South Korea and March 11 in China. The Chinese leg was first moved to Australia due to COVID-19 concerns. Then the South Korean host city of Yongin declined to stage the match, and the football federations of the two countries asked the AFC to move the series to April.

The AFC earlier said the matches had been rescheduled for April 9 and 14, but they were pushed back further by two months after discussions between the AFC and FIFA.

Australia and Vietnam are playing in the other playoff series. Australia cruised to a 5-0 victory in the first leg last Thursday, and the second leg is Wednesday.

The KFA has been adamant that South Korea's home leg must stay in the country, even if it is played in an empty stadium for safety reasons.

Coached by Englishman Colin Bell, South Korea are ranked 20th in the world, five spots below China. In 37 all-time meetings, South Korea have four wins, six draws and 27 losses against China.

Women's football joined the Olympics in 1996, and South Korea, dubbed the Taeguk Ladies, have never played in the quadrennial event.

Virtually all Asian football action in China and South Korea, both heavily hit by the virus, has been wiped off the calendar from February and March. The continental governing body has been scrambling to reschedule AFC Champions League matches, and Asian FIFA World Cup qualifiers scheduled for March and June have been pushed back.

But the AFC has told the KFA that matches could still be held in March or June if the teams involved meet safety and hygiene requirements established by FIFA and the AFC.


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