India's road to 2018 Russia World Cup: Second qualification round match-days announced
The dates for the second round of qualifiers for the 2018 Russia World Cup have been announced. These qualifiers also impact the qualification for the 2019 Asian Cup.
The Indian national football team might have overcome the first hurdle in its bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be held in Russia, but the journey has just started. India beat Nepal 2-0 over two legs to progress to the second round of the qualifiers.
In this round, 34 higher ranked teams await the six who progressed through the first round. To get a better understanding of how the qualifiers are designed to play out, refer to this article.
The 40 teams are set to be divided into eight groups of five each and the top teams of each group are set to make it to the third round.
The draw for the group is scheduled for April 14, 2015 at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While India still awaits to find out which teams they will face in this stage, the match days have already been decided.
The second round qualification matches are set to be played out between June 11, 2015 and March 29, 2016. The individual matchdays have been scheduled for June 11, June 16, September 3, September 8, October 8, October 13, November 12, November 17, March 24 and March 29.
India will be looking forward to performing well in this stage as a more realistic ambition of getting to the Asian Cup will depend on the results of these matches, besides the nation’s World Cup dream.
Eight of the group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the 2019 UAE Asian Cup finals directly as well as the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from this stage will earn their place in the qualifier stage of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers set to be held over six match-days: October 11, 2016; November 15, 2016; March 28 2017; June 13, 2017; October 10, 2017; and March 27; 2018.
The extended 24-team format in the 2019 Asian Cup gives India added hope of qualifying.