Sydney will host the Matildas’ Olympic qualifying group matches against China, Taiwan and Thailand after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) elected to move the games away from Nanjing due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The Group B games were originally moved from Wuhan — the source of the outbreak — to Nanjing but will now take place in Sydney in February after the Chinese Football Association withdrew as host.
The AFC nominated Sydney as the replacement after working with Australian officials.
“The safety of all players, officials and fans is of paramount importance to Football Federation Australia and the Asian Football Confederation,” Football Federation Australia chief executive Chris Nikou said in a statement.
“We are confident we will host a successful tournament here in Sydney,” he said.
“I would also like to acknowledge the support of the Australian Government in enabling FFA to host this event at short notice.”
Sam kerr tweet: Thanks to everyone @FFA for putting the teams safety first & getting this done in such a short time frame.
Match schedules, kick-off times and broadcast details are yet to be announced.
Australia will play China, Taiwan and Thailand in Group B.
The winner of group B will play the runner-up of Group A, with the runner-up to play Group A’s winner.
Those playoffs will be home and away legs, with the two winners of the playoffs qualifying for the Olympics alongside hosts Japan.
The Group A games are being played in South Korea. There are only three teams in Group A — South Korea, Myanmar and Vietnam — after North Korea pulled out in December.
The Matildas will be looking to join Australia’s U23 men’s side in Tokyo, after the Olyroos qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2008 on Saturday night.
Graham Arnold’s side beat Uzbekistan 1-0 in the third-place play-off of the qualification tournament in Thailand, with the top three teams qualifying.