Following the Covid breakout in the Cook Islands squad at the OFC World Cup qualifiers, they have decided to withdraw from the campaign.
The Oceania Football Confederation confirmed the expected news, after the Cook Islands could not play their match against Tahiti due to a coronavirus outbreak in camp.
Prior to this Vanuatu had already withdrawn.
That means that Tahiti and Solomon Islands will play one final group stage game to determine who gets the group win and runner up positions. The match between the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands will not count towards the final ranking.
Full press release from the OFC:
“Following the decisions taken by the football associations of the Cook Islands and Vanuatu to withdraw from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Oceania Qualifiers due to positive cases of COVID-19 that affected their respective national teams, the Bureau for the FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers has taken the following decisions in order to determine the winner and runner-up of Group A in a fair and simple manner:
1. All matches played or scheduled to be played as part of Group A involving the Cook Islands or Vanuatu shall be deemed to have not taken place for the purposes of determining the group standings.
2. The match between the Solomon Islands and Tahiti scheduled to take place on March 24, 2022 will act as a single play-off match to determine the winner and runner-up of Group A. In accordance with article 20 paragraph 11 of the Regulations for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ Preliminary Competition, if the match is level at the end of normal playing time, extra time shall be played. If the score is still level at the end of extra time, kicks from the penalty mark shall be taken to determine the winner.
3. The Solomon Islands will go into their match against Tahiti with a clean disciplinary record (as they did not receive any cautions in their match against the Cook Islands, this shall not change the status quo in substance).
4. For the avoidance of doubt, the match between the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands, which took place on 17 March 2022 with a 2-0 result in favour of the Solomon Islands, will count with respect to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, although it will not count with respect to the preliminary competition Group A standings.”