Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the governing body for football in Asia, has announced the full fixtures, date, time, and venue details for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers. India will kickstart its Group F campaign on 22 March against Uzbekistan.
To qualify for the main tournament, a team must either top its respective group or finish as one of the four best runners-up. In case the tournament's host Thailand makes it through by the qualifiers, chance would be given to the fifth best runners-up to complete the quota of 16 teams.
The listings of India's matches are given below:
Date: 22 March
Kickoff: 03:30 p.m. IST
Venue: Lokomotiv Stadium, Tashkent
Stadium capacity: 8,000
Date: 24 March
Kickoff: 05:30 p.m. IST
Venue: Pakhtakhor Central Stadium, Tashkent
Stadium capacity: 35,000
The AFC U-23 Championship also doubles up as the qualifiers for the Men's Football tournament in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The top three countries from the tournament will represent Asia in the quadrennial extravaganza.
India has announced a preliminary 37-member squad so far which will be trimmed to 23 later on. A staggering 8 players have been selected from the Blue Tigers' 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup squad.
Moreover, the quartet of Ashique Kuruniyan, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, and Sarthak Golui who were part of India's 2019 AFC Asian Cup campaign have also been included.
AIFF confirmed FC Goa Technical Director Derrick Pereira as the head coach of the U-23 team and named Shanmughan Venkatesh as his assistant. Only players born on or after 1 January 1997 are eligible for the tournament, thus disqualifying prominent players like Udanta Singh, Germanpreet Singh, and Vishal Kaith despite them being below 23 years now.
Uzbekistan is the defending champions of the tournament whereas Tajikistan's team recently held the U-21 team of CSKA Moscow. India's qualification hopes will depend on the performance against these two countries.