An announcement on the future of the Matildas’ Olympic qualifiers in Sydney next week is expected for Friday, with the quarantined China team in “good health”.
The future of the Matildas’ Olympic qualifiers is expected to be announced today following a day of negotiations between the FFA and other bodies.
China’s coronavirus outbreak has thrown next week’s qualifiers into disarray, forcing the event to be relocated twice with the Chinese team in isolation at a Brisbane hotel.
While FFA has devised a schedule for the six group games between Australia, China, Thailand and Taiwan at Sydney’s Campbelltown and Bankwest stadiums, they have had to postpone selling tickets due to uncertainty over the availability of the Chinese team.
The Steel Roses held a pre-tournament camp in Wuhan in the days before the outbreak of the virus, which has killed 170 people and left thousands ill.
Under new quarantine regulations, that time in its epicentre meant authorities want the China players and staff to remain in isolation until next Wednesday – two days after their first fixture against Thailand.
It’s unclear if the match will be rescheduled or the Chinese will forfeit and hope results in their remaining group games are enough to put them into the final playoffs for the two Asian berths at this year’s Olympics.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Chinese FA said the 32 players and staff were coping well with their situation.
“All the players and staffing members are in good health condition,” it said.
“The team understands the concern of Queensland government, the media and and local people over the risk of coronavirus… and will work closely with all stakeholders to fulfil all the quarantine requirements.”
Despite the situation the Chinese FA says it is convinced joint efforts by the FFA and AFC will ensure the team can prepare and compete in the qualifiers.
As well as their Brisbane quarantine, several players from the Steel Roses have been unable to travel to Australia.
Key players Wang Shuang and Yao Wei, along with at least two others, had returned to their homes in and around Wuhan for Chinese New Year and due to local travel restrictions were unable to rejoin the squad.
Wang has played over 100 matches for China, scoring 28 goals, while Yao was a member of last year’s World Cup squad and has made 22 international appearances.
Wuhan was the original location for the Group B fixtures before they were relocated to Nanjing and then Sydney after China withdrew as hosts at the weekend.
The top two Group B teams will face those from Group A – featuring hosts South Korea, Vietnam and Myanmar – in a two-leg home and away playoff to determine Asia’s two representatives alongside hosts Japan in Tokyo.