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FIFA changes to single-leg format for World Cup playoffs

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FIFA has decided to ditch the two-legged format for the intercontinental playoffs in favour of single games as nations battle to secure the final spots at next year’s World Cup.

Four teams are due to feature in the playoffs with representatives from Asia, Oceania, South America and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region.

The draw is set to take place on November 26 with the two fixtures due to be held on neutral grounds on June 13 and 14.

The winner of each match will determine the final two qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar.

FIFA had previously adopted a format that saw the playoffs played over two legs, but it has now changed them to single legs.

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The move comes “as a result of the unprecedented disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic”, according to FIFA.
Four teams from both Africa and South America can qualify directly to the World Cup with another slot available for the intercontinental playoffs.

CONCACAF has been allocated three qualifying places for the World Cup along with one for the intercontinental playoffs.

Oceania has just one place available via the playoffs.

Australia and Peru emerged victorious when they intercontinental playoffs were last staged prior to the 2018 World Cup after beating Honduras and New Zealand respectively.

Next year’s World Cup will feature 32 teams and is scheduled to run from November 21 to December 18.

The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by human rights issues amid concern over the treatment of migrant workers.

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