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South America to cram in extra World Cup qualifier in October

South American national teams will again be asked to play an extra round of World Cup qualifiers in the upcoming international window, continental governing body CONMEBOL said on Monday. 

As in the last window in early September, CONMEBOL will attempt to catch up on lost matches by squeezing in an extra round and teams will play on Thursday October 7, Sunday October 10 and Thursday October 14.

Two matches were postponed in March when European clubs refused to release players because of Covid-19 restrictions. Brazil and Argentina potentially have an additional match to make up after their meeting on September 5 was halted by health officials in Sao Paulo because British-based players were in the visiting team. 

Even though they have played one match fewer that their rivals, Neymar’s Brazil and Lionel Messi’s Argentina top the 10-team qualifying table. The other eight nations have all played half their 18 matches.

In the October break, Brazil will now travel to Venezuela and Colombia before hosting Uruguay. Argentina travel to Paraguay before hosting Uruguay and Peru. 

The release of players by English clubs could still be an issue if the British health authorities still have South American countries on their red list and insist on a 10-day quarantine when they return. 

It could also be an issue if Uruguay call up Edinson Cavani of Manchester United for their game in Brazil. 

In September, Brazil opted to do without nine internationals from English clubs and Uruguay were without Cavani.

But Argentina insisted on calling up four Premier League players and Brazilian health authorities responded by halting their match.

World governing body FIFA has still to decide what to do about Brazil-Argentina game. It could order the game to be played or award victory to one of the teams. Both argued the other side was at fault. 

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