With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic still existing, the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) region has decided to push back its qualifiers for the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) World Cup Qatar 2022 to March 2021.
The announcement was made on Tuesday after discussions were held with CONCACAF member associations and other stakeholders.
“Many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision. Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult,” the statement read.
The Bahamas is one of those countries with travel restrictions for persons coming into the country. One of those restrictions is that visitors have undergo an RT-PCR COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test and have a negative result. Then upon arrival, they have a mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
The Bahamas is in Group F of the first round of the qualifiers with Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guyana and Puerto Rico. The draw was held on August 19. The Bahamas was set to kick off the first round of play against St. Kitts and Nevis, at home, on Saturday, October 10.
CONCACAF will now work with FIFA to finalize a new schedule, beginning with the first round in March 2021, which will be communicated in due time, the statement read.
The Bahamas’ second game of the first round was set to be an away game against a tough Guyanese squad on Tuesday, October 13.
In the second window, The Bahamas’ Junkanoo Boys were going to play an away game against Puerto Rico on Wednesday, November 11. In their final first-round game, which was a home game, Team Bahamas was set to play the highest ranked team in the group, Trinidad and Tobago. That was scheduled for Saturday, November 14.
The Bahamas’ Junkanoo Boys, as they are called, are ranked at number 30 in the CONCACAF region and at number 195 in the world, as of the latest rankings on July 16.
The nation has climbed several spots since it was at number 210 last year July. The upward movement in the rankings was because of the positive results the team attained during the CONCACAF Nations League last year. They were unbeaten in Group B in League C, winning a group that included Bonaire and the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The head coach for the team is former national team player Nesley Jean, who was looking to get training underway last week. This latest postponement gives him and the Bahamas Football Association (BFA) more time to prepare as the region grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.