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Vanuatu withdraw from World Cup qualifying

Vanuatu have pulled out of Oceania’s qualification tournament for this year’s World Cup finals in Qatar due to a majority of their players and staff testing positive for COVID-19.

Vanuatu’s first match of the tournament against Tahiti on March 17 was postponed due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases in their camp. Vanuatu were scheduled to play Solomon Islands on Sunday.

Oceania, which does not have an automatic spot at the World Cup, is staging a mini-tournament in Doha to decide which country advances to an intercontinental playoff for a place at the finals.

“Vanuatu’s next match day is in the next two days, and VFF (Vanuatu Football Federation) do not have sufficient time to replace the players and officials … The current circumstances are beyond their control,” football’s governing body FIFA said in a statement on Saturday.

“Under the Ministry of Public Health regulations for the State of Qatar Healthcare Protocol, the positive cases must isolate for a minimum period of seven days.

“The VFF Executive Committee is seeking the assistance of the OFC and FIFA if there is the possibility to waive the disciplinary sanctions regarding the withdrawal of the team.”

The winners of the March 17-30 competition will face the fourth-place team from the CONCACAF region, which features sides from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

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