(Reuters) -Australia coach Graham Arnold is set to miss their crucial World Cup qualifier against Vietnam on Thursday after returning a positive test for COVID-19, Football Australia said.
Arnold has gone into isolation ahead of the game in Melbourne and will be replaced on the sidelines by his assistant, Rene Meulensteen.
“Arnold — who is fully vaccinated, received a booster 10 days ago, and is asymptomatic — immediately isolated from Socceroos staff after returning the result upon his arrival into Melbourne late last week,” the governing body said in a statement on Sunday.
“Socceroos staff already in Melbourne have also been isolating over the past two days and have since undertaken three rounds of PCR testing.”
Australia are third in Group B of Asia’s World Cup preliminaries. Only the top two finishers are guaranteed to advance to the finals in Qatar later this year.
Saudi Arabia lead the standings with 16 points, four ahead of Japan with the Australians a further point adrift.
After taking on Vietnam on Thursday Australia travel to Muscat to face Oman on Feb. 1.
(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, additional reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)