China's World Cup qualifier moved to Thailand


The Coronavirus has been raging through China, especially in the south, and that is where China normally decide to host their World Cup matches. Therefore, the decision has been taken by the CFA (Chinese Football Association) to play their games at a neutral venue.

Thailand was chosen as a neutral venue

The northern Thai city of Buriram has been picked to host China's World Cup qualifier against the Maldives since of the Coronavirus which is rampaging through China at the moment. The CFA have been pretty forward-thinking in making sure that China's push for the World Cup won't be affected and they have secured a venue for the games outside of China.

According to the South China Morning Post, China had discussed a handful of locations to play their fixtures. It seems the final decision came down to the UAE or Thailand. I reckon Thailand is the better option, but it was most likely not really down to China to have the final decision, due to the current stigma of hosting a 'Chinese' side.

The Thai FA and authorities have said yes it seems, on the condition that the game is played behind closed doors. Which means it will most likely be difficult for me to watch, as the great Chinese firewall seems happy enough to block dodgy streaming of their own national side, but will happily let broadcasts of every other nation beam out to the internet for everyone to watch on a dodgy stream.

With everything being said, the CFA have reacted quickly to the situation and ensured that their game against the Maldives will go ahead. You have to applaud the CFA for this because not every FA around the world would have acted as quickly as they have done. Which leads us onto...

CFA invites Guam to play their 'home' game in Thailand 

Something I hadn't picked up on, is the fact that China is scheduled to play away against Guam, and Guam is a US territory, and currently, Chinese nationals cannot travel to the US. This means China could face massive complications in travelling for their game with Guam.

Hence why the CFA have thought ahead and offered Guam the chance to play their 'home' game against them in Thailand. This is a bit of a boot in the balls for Guam mind, as they're a small nation and having China come to town could get bums on seats and boost the coffers a bit.

In the view that for the small nations competing to qualify, a draw against one of the big nations can really help in generating interest and getting people to the match. Guam may or may not have sold tickets for it already. If they have sold tickets for the match, it could be an of a ballache to sort that out.

Either way, Guam will have the final decision on where they want to play their home the fixture, maybe they will come to some consensus that allows China to travel to Guam for the footy, who knows. It is probably unlikely but that would be the best outcome really.

It's nice to see China thinking ahead about these games, and it shows that the organisation does have a bit of nous about them, even though they take a lot of stick for their constant rule changing.

Regardless of where these games are played, you would expect China to take six points from matches against Maldives and Guam, which will keep them on track to qualify for the final qualifying round, either through winning the group by managing to overcome Syria, or by being one of the best runners up teams.

Once China gets to the next round, they may be able to call on more 'foreign help' by kicking on their naturalisation of players with Chinese lineage, or by acquiring citizenship through the working in the country route. The final qualifying will still prove to be too much for China in my opinion even with the naturalised players, they still have a lot of work to do to become one of the top sides in Asia.

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