Macau, a goal up in 2022 qualifier, pull out of Sri Lanka return over security fears

June 11 – Macau have refused to travel to Sri Lanka to complete their 2022 World Cup qualifier citing concerns over safety in the country.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) preliminary World Cup qualification began last week with 12 teams involved in knockout games for places in the first round of group qualifying for Qatar 2022. The matches also count as the first rounds of Asian Cup 2023 qualifying.

Macua, a former Portuguese colony, won the first leg of the tie with a goal by defender Filipe Duarte. The match was played in Zhuhai in south China.

The second leg was scheduled to be played today in Colombo but Macau only informed the AFC officially yesterday (Monday) that the team had refused to travel.

“The Asian Football Confederation have been informed today by the Macau Football Association that their national team will not travel to Sri Lanka,” said an AFC statement.

“The AFC will now refer this matter to FIFA and the appropriate AFC committees.”

More than 250 people, including 42 foreigners, were killed in a series of suicide bombings at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (April 21) which the Islamic State claimed responsibility for.

While security concerns were obvious, the last minute refusal to travel by Macau knowing the fixture was scheduled for months and more than seven months after the attack could result in a significant sanction for Macau and the suspension from future international competition. Sri Lanka will most likely be awarded the match and the tie , progressing to the first group round of 2022 AFC qualifying.

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