(Reuters) – The long road to the 2022 World Cup finals begins in the footballing backwaters of Mongolia on Thursday as the first games that count towards qualification for Qatar are hosted in Asia.
Mongolia, who have only ever won a single World Cup qualifying match, host Brunei Darussalam in the first of six first round qualifiers across Asia, which also serve as early round eliminators for the next Asian Cup in 2023.
The match takes place at the Mongolian Football Federation stadium in Ulan Bator at 0900GMT, before other games in Laos, Macau, Cambodia and Bhutan and one on Friday in Malaysia. The arena, built from FIFA funding, has a 5,000-capacity and an artificial pitch against the backdrop of the Mongolian steppes.
It is the second time in a row Mongolia, 187th in the FIFA rankings, are involved in the first game of a World Cup qualifying campaign. They were beaten 4-1 away by Timor-Leste in the Russia 2018 preliminaries but the result was later expunged when it was discovered…
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