African qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday were pushed back until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Qatar 2022 [qualifiers] set for May 2021,” the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said in a statement.

“The 40 teams in contention for the five slots for Qatar 2022 will commence the journey between 31 May and 15 June 2021 with the Day 1 & 2 matches,” the CAF said.

There will be six match days in the group stage, which will end in October 2021.

“From 30 August till 7 September, the Day 3 & 4 matches are expected to take place with Day 5 & 6 matches fixed for 4-12 October 2021,” it said and adding that the African playoffs for the 2022 World Cup will be held on Nov. 8-16, 2021.

The African qualifiers’ original starting date was this October.

Separately the qualifying stage for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will begin on Nov. 9 and end on March 30, 2021 as African teams will face a busy schedule for both the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers.

The Central African nation of Cameroon will host AFCON 2021.

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