The draw for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 was made on Thursday, 28 October at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 12 teams will be competing in Asia's showpiece tournament for women's national teams slated to begin on January 20th, 2022.
Hosts India have been drawn in Group A alongside 8-time champions China, 3-time champions Chinese Taipei and debutants Iran. India will take on Iran in the opening match of the tournament on January 20th at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
This is the first time since 2003 that India will be featuring in the Women's Asian Cup. The Blue Tigresses have a respectable history in the competition, finishing runners-up in 1979 and 1983. 1979 was also the last time India hosted the Women's Asian Cup, with Chinese Taipei winning the title that year by beating the hosts 2-0 in the final in Calicut.
Full draw results for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022
India will be reasonably happy with the draw as it presents them with a realistic chance to qualify for the last 8. China will be hot favorites to top the group while India and Chinese Taipei are expected to tussle for second place. Iran, making their debut in the Women's Asian Cup, are the rank outsiders in the group.
Format of the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022
The top two teams from each group and two of the three best third-placed teams among all groups will qualify for the quarter finals. The four winners from the quarter finals will also directly qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand.
Apart from co-hosts and already qualified Australia, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have been allotted five slots for the World Cup. Hence, the losers of the Women's Asian Cup quarter finals will enter a repechage round to determine the fifth and final direct qualifier. Two of the losing quarter-finalists will enter the inter-confederation play-offs for World Cup qualification.
As such, this Asian Cup presents a tempting opportunity for India to qualify for their first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup.
Know India's group stage opponents at the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022
With India seeded in Pot 1 as hosts for the draw, they had already avoided Japan and Australia, the finalists of the 2018 AFC Women's Asian Cup.
From Pot 2, China have been pitted against India. Currently ranked 17th in the FIFA rankings, China have won the Women's Asian Cup a record eight times. However, their last title came way back in 2006 and the Steel Roses will be aiming to end their 16-year title drought in India.
China came in third in the 2018 Women's Asian Cup in Jordan. They were also silver-medallists at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, losing to Japan in the final. At the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France, the Chinese were eliminated in the round of 16 by Italy.
More recently, China had a forgettable Olympic Games in Tokyo. They were eliminated in the group stages after suffering heavy defeats to Brazil and Netherlands.
Irrespective of their form, the Chinese will be one of the favorites at the Women's Asian Cup. Boasting some of the most talented players in Asia like Wang Shanshan, Wang Shuang and Wu Haiyan, the Steel Roses will be eager to once again reach the pinnacle of the continent.
3-time winners Chinese Taipei
Chinese Taipei won three back-to-back titles between 1977 and 1981 but haven't been able to scale the same heights since then. In fact, they have qualified for the Women's Asian Cup for the first time since 2008.
Chinese Taipei topped Group A in qualification, beating Laos and Bahrain.
Although Chinese Taipei are ranked 17 places above India in the FIFA rankings, the Blue Tigresses have already beaten them in a friendly fixture just a fortnight ago.
India's match against Chinese Taipei in the Women's Asian Cup could go a long way in determining qualification for the knockout stages. As such, this friendly win could provide a much-needed confidence boost for India ahead of the competitive fixture in January.
Debutants and rank outsiders Iran
Iran women's football team created history by qualifying for the Women's Asian Cup for the first time ever. They defeated Bangladesh 5-0 before knocking out a higher-ranked Jordan side in a thrilling penalty shootout to book their ticket to India.
India have experience of beating Iran as well. The Blue Tigresses ran out 1-0 winners over the visitors when the two sides met in the 2019 Gold Cup in Bhubaneshwar.
Iranian women's football has been on the rise in recent years. However, they are still ranked 72nd in the world, the second-lowest in the tournament, only ahead of Indonesia. Iran don't have anything to lose in their first major tournament. With that, India's opening day clash against Iran is virtually a must-win for the hosts.
India's fixtures at the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022
20 January: India vs Iran
23 January: Chinese Taipei vs India
26 January: India vs China
Q. Can India qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup?