Ukraine’s hopes of reaching the World Cup will be decided in early June after new dates were confirmed for the postponed playoff games.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine meant the original plan to play Scotland in March was shelved and the knock-on effect was that Wales have also been kept waiting.
To reach the finals in Qatar, Ukraine must win away to Scotland on Wednesday, June 1, before coming out on top in another away game against Wales on June 5.
Wales secured their place in the final round of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory against Austria on March 24, which had been the original date for the Scotland-Ukraine fixture.
The winner of the final European play-off will go into a World Cup group alongside England, Iran, and the United States.
UEFA announced the new play-off dates on Thursday, as well as explaining how its Nations League opening fixtures, also set for the June international window, would be rearranged to allow for Ukraine, Wales, and Scotland to fulfill their World Cup commitments.
European football’s governing body said it had held “extensive discussions” with eight national associations who would be affected by the World Cup games being switched to the intended Nations League dates and said there had been “a remarkable spirit of solidarity and cooperation” in negotiating an updated schedule.
Wales were due to play Poland in the Nations League on June 3, but that game has been switched to June 1, meaning Rob Page’s team will have a competitive game in the build-up to facing either Scotland or Ukraine.
Scotland had been due to play Ukraine in the Nations League on June 7, but that game has been shunted back to September 21, with both teams then due to play three games in seven days.
Nations League group A4 and B1 games affected by World Cup play-offs, with new dates:
June 1: A4 – Poland v Wales
June 4: B1 – Armenia v Republic of Ireland
June 8: A4 – Belgium v Poland, Wales v Netherlands; Scotland v Armenia, Republic of Ireland v Ukraine
June 11: A4 – Netherlands v Poland, Wales v Belgium
June 14: A4 – Netherlands v Wales, Poland v Belgium
September 21: B1 – Scotland v Ukraine
September 24: B1 – Scotland v Republic of Ireland, Armenia v Ukraine
September 27: B1 – Republic of Ireland v Armenia, Ukraine v Scotland