Football Federation Australia (FFA) races against the clock to prepare for next week’s Asian Women’s Football Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The event, scheduled for Feb. 3-9, was moved over the weekend from China to Sydney due to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
The Asian Football Confederation had initially only moved the games scheduled for Wuhan to Nanjing, but decided on Saturday that the tournament needed to be moved to a different country.
FFA chief James Johnson, addressing reporters on Monday, said all of the matches will be played in and around Sydney though the venues have not been finalized.
“There’s still a lot of work for us to do operationally, but right now the original match days are going to remain the same; those match-days are the third, sixth and ninth of February, with two matches – or double-headers – being played each day.
Johnson admits that the unfortunate need to move the tournament out of China could be a boon for Australia both short term and long term
There is the immediate boost for the Australian team, nicknamed the Matildas, who now will be playing at home as they battle to qualify for Tokyo 2020 against China, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.
Johnson also believes that should Australia do a good job in hosting the tournament at the last minute, it will be a feather in the cap of the country in its bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“I think the consideration for the Women’s World Cup when that decision arrives will be ‘if we can do this on short notice in this sort of way, what sort of tournament could we do if we’ve got three years notice?’
“We’ll do a great job and this will certainly strengthen our cause, which is to bring the Women’s World Cup to Australia in 2023.”
A joint bid by Australia and New Zealand is one of four accepted by FIFA in December. Brazil, Colombia and Japan also submitted bids.
FIFA will select the 2023 host in June at its meeting in Addis Ababa.