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2014 World Cup Qualifiers: Tough road ahead for India

The Asian Football Confederation yesterday announced the format for the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The AFC has left the format unchanged to the qualifiers of the 2010 FIFA World Cup with teams having to play a maximum of six rounds to qualify for the World Cup.

FIFA  World  CUP 2014 LOGO

FIFA World CUP 2014 LOGO

This once more means a tough road ahead for Team India plus we also need to move quickly into the Top 20 in Asia or otherwise we would once more have to play the first round qualifiers. And last time around in October 2007 Round 1 was our end to the journey to South Africa as we lost 4-1 away to Lebanon and only drew them 2-2 at home.

What should be our aim for these qualifiers? Reach Round 3, the group stages, to play against the Asian big boys regularly which will give the team the necessary experience playing constantly at this higher level. This would be a vital step in our preparations to qualify for the 2018 World Cup then in the upcoming qualifiers, we need to face this opposition on a regular basis. Otherwise another cycle is lost and the general public will be asking itself when will we qualify for a World Cup.

The AFC will await how many of its 46 member associations want to participate in the qualifiers only thereafter it will announce how many teams will have to play in the Round 1 & 2 qualifiers. The qualifiers which come through plus seeded teams will make up the 20 teams to face each other in the five groups of four teams each in Round 3 and only the top two sides from each group will move into Round 4, the Final Round of Asian qualifiers. In Round 4 the 10 teams will be divided into two groups of five teams each and the top two will qualify for the 2014 World Cup, while the third placed sides will face each other in a two-leg playoff in Round 5 to determine which Asian side will face the toppers from Oceania in Round 6 to face each other to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

2014 WC – Asian Qualifiers – MATCH DAYS

Round 1
MD1: June 29, 2011
MD2: July 3, 2011

Round 2
MD1: July 23, 2011
MD2: July 28, 2011

Round 3
MD1: September 2, 2011
MD2: September 6, 2011
MD3: October 11, 2011
MD4: November 11, 2011
MD5: November 15, 2011
MD6: February 29, 2012

Round 4
MD 1: June 3, 2012
MD 2: June 8, 2012
MD 3: June 12, 2012
MD 4: September 11, 2012
MD 5: October 16, 2012
MD 6: November 14, 2012
MD 7: March 26, 2013
MD 8: June 4, 2013
MD 9: June 11, 2013
MD10: June 18, 2013

Round 5
MD1: September 6, 2013
MD2: September 10, 2013

Round 6
MD1: October 15, 2013
MD2: November 19, 2013

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