The Confederation of African Football has postponed the African qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar which were due to kick off in June.
The qualifiers will now hold in the international windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022, CAF said.
Africa’s governing body said the decision was taken in consultation with FIFA and was a consequence of “the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to ensure the optimal playing conditions for all participating teams”.
New dates for the qualifiers will be announced in due course, CAF said in a statement on Thursday.
The statement reads: “The CAF Emergency Committee, in consultation with FIFA, decided to postpone the CAF qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️ that were due to be played in June 2021 after taking into consideration the current challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to ensure the optimal playing conditions for all participating teams.
“The qualifiers will now take place in the existing windows of September, October and November 2021, and March 2022.
“CAF is reassessing its protocols and processes to enhance the implementation of COVID-related protocols, including specifically focusing on pre-match testing which had been the source of some challenges in previous windows.
“Full details on the updated match schedule will be provided in due course.”
The Super Eagles had been due to kick off their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Liberia on 4 June.
Nigeria has been drawn alongside Cape Verde, Central African Republic, and Liberia in the first phase of qualifying.
CAF had earlier released a list of seven stadiums approved to host home games for the three-time African champions during the qualifiers.
The 2022 World Cup qualifiers will see forty teams in ten groups of four battle for the chance to qualify for the last phase.
Group winners will face off in a straight knockout for one of five slots at what will be the first-ever World Cup to be held in November.