SYDNEY: Australia have withdrawn their team from the qualifiers for next year’s under-20s Asian Cup in Uzbekistan on safety grounds after their group was assigned an Iraqi city as their hub, Football Australia said today.
The qualifiers are taking place next month with each of the 10 four-team groups allocated a different host city in a different country. Australia, Iraq, Kuwait and India in Group H were assigned to Basra.
“Football Australia has advised the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that it will be withdrawing from the AFC U20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022 qualifiers,” the governing body said in a statement.
“The final decision was made after careful consideration based upon the current travel advice of the Australian government.”
Iraq is one of 19 countries that the Australian government advises its citizens to avoid.
“Do not travel to Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, due to the volatile security situation and very high risk of violence, armed conflict, kidnapping and terrorist attack,” reads the latest update on the government website.
Australia’s withdrawal leaves Group H with only two teams as India are ineligible for international competition after global Fifa suspended their football association.
Football Australia said it was investigating the possibility of its under-20 squad competing in a four-team tournament in Spain next month instead.