Coronavirus: Norway to send team to face Austria in Nations League showdown

Norway have said their final Nations League group game against Austria on Wednesday will go ahead despite Sunday’s match against Romania being cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

The Norway squad was on their way to the airport to catch a chartered flight to Bucharest when authorities told them the journey would breach the country’s stringent coronavirus measures after a player in the squad had tested positive for the virus.

It meant the players originally called up are unable to play and were told the self-isolate, leaving the country’s football association scrambling to form a new squad for Wednesday’s group decider against Austria.

In a statement, the Norwegian Football Federation said the game against Austria would now go ahead and a new squad coached by U21 boss Leif Gunnar Smerud would be presented at a press conference on Monday morning.

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The players selected will fly to Oslo and observe a strict quarantine at an airport hotel before departing for the game, the NFF explained.

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Austria, who beat Northern Ireland 2-1 on Sunday, top Group 1 in League B on 12 points ahead of Norway, who are second on nine points.

The Norwegians are likely to be handed a 3-0 defeat by UEFA after their no-show in Romania.

If that is the case then Northern Ireland would be consigned to the bottom of the table and relegation from League B.

“These have been demanding assessments, but we are now happy that the match can be played, both sportingly and out of consideration for our obligations to UEFA and the tournament we participate in,” NFF general secretary Pal Bjerketvedt said.

Winning the group would mean Norway gets promoted to the top flight of the Nations League and provide another possible route to the World Cup finals, which they have not qualified for since 1998.

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