FIFA rejig Oceania World Cup qualifiers after withdrawals due to COVID-19

FIFA have changed the format of the World Cup qualification tournament for the Oceania region after the Cook Islands and Vanuatu withdrew due to cases of COVID-19 that affected their national teams, world football's governing body said on Wednesday.

Both the Cook Islands and Vanuatu were in Group A but FIFA said all matches involving the two teams "shall be deemed to have not taken place."

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That leaves the other two teams in the group, Solomon Islands and Tahiti, to play their group fixture on Thursday, which will be considered a single playoff match to determine the winner and runner-up of Group A.

If the match ends in a draw, they will play extra time and go to penalties if needed.

New Zealand have already advanced from Group B, with Papua New Guinea and Fiji -- level on three points each -- fighting for the second spot when they face each other.

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

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