Matildas to face China despite outbreak

Matt Encarnacion and Ed Jackson

The Matildas are set to face China as part of next week's Olympic qualifiers in Sydney despite confusion over the impact of the coronavirus.

Football Federation Australia appeared to put a dramatic week behind them when they announced a new schedule on Friday to stage the games in western Sydney.

Matildas coach Ante Milicic, captain Sam Kerr and FFA boss James Johnson were set to discuss the details at a press conference later that day.

However all three were dramatically pulled by FFA officials moments before speaking due to new information handed to the governing body.

What that new information was appeared unclear, again raising doubts over the status of the group B contests also involving Taiwan and Thailand.

As of Friday afternoon, the Chinese team remained isolated in their Brisbane hotel because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

But all six games will proceed as planned, with the Matildas beginning the next stage of qualifying against Taiwan in Campbelltown on February 6.

Milicic's side will then head to Western Sydney Stadium, where they face Thailand on February 9, before taking on China back in Campbelltown three days later.

"FFA very much appreciates the collaborative approach displayed by everyone to re-schedule the Olympic Qualification tournament," Johnson said on Friday.

"I'd like to thank the CFA (Chinese Football Association) for their understanding and cooperation, despite the difficult situation their team and staff have found themselves in since arriving in Brisbane."

It is the third time authorities had been forced to move the matches, which were initially relocated to Nanjing from Wuhan.

China withdrew as tournament hosts following the outbreak, prompting the hasty decision to shift the entire six-game schedule to Sydney.

The Chinese FA declared on Thursday that their 32 players and staff are in good health and have shown no signs of the disease.

Despite showing no signs of the illness, Queensland Health authorities have stated the team will need to stay in isolation until Wednesday.

They were initially scheduled to face Thailand on Monday.

The new draw is slated to begin with Taiwan battling Thailand at Campbelltown Stadium on Monday night.

The top two nations from Group B will face the top two from Group A - featuring hosts South Korea, Myanmar and Vietnam - in a home-and-away playoff.

The playoff winners will secure their spots as Asia's representatives along with hosts Japan at this year's Tokyo Olympics.

WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING - GROUP B (all times AEDT)

Monday, February 3 at Campbelltown Stadium

Taiwan v Thailand, 7.30pm

Thursday, February 6 at Campbelltown Stadium

Thailand v China, 4.30pm

Taiwan v Australia, 7.30pm

Sunday, February 9 at Bankwest Stadium

China v Taiwan, 3.10pm

Australia v Thailand, 6.10pm

Wednesday, February 12 at Campbelltown Stadium

Australia v China, 7.30pm