Soccer-Singapore, Japan agree to switch dates for World Cup qualifiers

SINGAPORE, April 24 (Reuters) - Japan and Singapore have agreed to switch venues for their two home and away World Cup qualifiers after the first match clashed with the South East Asian (SEA) Games. Singapore were due to host Japan at their glitzy new National Stadium on June 16 in the second round of Asian qualifiers. But the stadium had already been booked that same night to host the closing ceremony of the SEA Games, one of the centrepieces of Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence. The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) asked the Japanese (JFA), Asian (AFC) and world (FIFA) governing bodies for permission to switch the venues and their request was granted. The June 15 match will now take place in Japan with the return fixture being held in Singapore on November 12. "We would like to thank FIFA, the AFC and JFA for understanding our circumstances with regard to the 16 June World Cup qualifying game, and agreeing to our request to play the match in Japan," FAS President Zainudin Nordin said in a statement. Japan and Singapore are drawn in Group E of the World Cup qualifiers, which will double as qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup. Cambodia, Afghanistan and Syria are also in the same group. (Reporting by Julian Linden; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)