- Indian Football team to face 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh in the Group E.
- The team will play the first match against Oman on September 5.
- Top 12 teams from the first qualifiers will proceed to the final round of the qualifiers.
The Indian national football team has been pitted against the FIFA 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar and Oman for the 2nd round of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup as well as the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.-- Advertisement --
Apart from the Middle-Eastern opponents, India will also be entertaining neighbours Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the Group E.
The draw ceremony was announced from the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.-- Advertisement --
India will commence on the daunting campaign by hosting Oman on September 5, followed by an away fixture against Qatar on September 10.
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“A Tough Draw”
India coach Igor Stimac was overwhelmed by the difficulty level of the draw. “It will be an enormous challenge for our young team. We have been drawn into a very tough group,” he said.
“We need to respect everyone – not only just teams from Pot 1, and Pot 2, but even teams from Pot 3, and Pot 4 too. The Intercontinental Cup showed to all how strange a game football us. The two teams which are playing the final (Tajikistan, and DPR Korea) are the lowest FIFA ranked teams in the tournament. That shows that everyone can beat everyone,” he informed.
“I will teach the team to respect the opposition, but when we step on to the pitch, we will do everything to win. That is the way I am going to prepare my team. We are just at the beginning of our journey. I hope that it will be a long one,” he further added.
The 40 Asian nations have been divided into 8 groups of 5 each. A total of 12 teams (8 group winners and the 4 best runners-up) will then proceed to the final qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup as well as the 2023 Asian Cup.
These 12 teams will then be slotted into 2 groups of 6 teams each in what will be a double round-robin format. The 4 best teams in this final qualifying round will proceed to the World Cup, while a fifth team will go to the intercontinental play‑offs.
Considering the fact that Qatar is already assured of a place in the 2022 extravaganza (being the host nation), Indian football team will need to finish at least second in the Group E to seal a berth in the final round.
Here is the full schedule of India’s World Cup qualifiers
September 5 – India vs Oman
September 10 – Qatar vs India
October 15 – India vs Bangladesh
November 14 – Afghanistan vs India
November 19 – Oman vs India
March 26 – India vs Qatar
June 4 – Bangladesh vs India
June 9 – India vs Afghanistan
Group A: China, Guam, Maldives, Philippines, Syria.
Group B: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Kuati, Jordan, and Nepal.
Group C: Bahrain, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq
Group D: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Singapore, Yemen
Group E: India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Oman, Qatar
Group F: Japan, Myanmar, Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan
Group G: UAE, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia,
Group H: South Korea, DPR Korea, Turkmenistan, Lebanon, Sri Lanka