The Japan Football Association said Monday four England-based players from the women's national team are waiting in London as the venue of this weekend's match against North Korea is still undecided.

With a Paris Olympic berth on the line, Saturday's first leg of their home-and-away tie was initially scheduled to be held in Pyongyang, but now it is expected to be played at a neutral venue after the JFA conveyed concerns over numerous issues to the Asian Football Confederation.

These included travel difficulties due to limited flights to Pyongyang, delays in working-level negotiations with North Korea and a lack of transparency over the match operations.

West Ham's Risa Shimizu, Honoka Hayashi and Riko Ueki, as well as Liverpool's Fuka Nagano, will leave London once the venue is finalized.

The JFA decided not to have the four players come home so that they could avoid the burden of long-distance travel.

The second game is scheduled for Feb. 28 at Tokyo's National Stadium, four days after the first match.

Players of the Japanese women's national team train in Chiba, near Tokyo, on Feb. 13, 2024, for the upcoming Olympic qualifying matches against North Korea. (Kyodo)

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