The Indian men’s football team has been clubbed with China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar for the Hangzhou Asian Games in a relatively easy Group A, while the women have Thailand and Chinese Taipei in Group B.
The draw was conducted here on Thursday.
The Indian men’s and women’s football teams’ participation at the quadrennial extravaganza was confirmed after the Sports Ministry decided to relax the existing selection criteria.
There are six groups in the men’s competition. The top two teams from each group and four best third-placed teams will advance to the round of 16.
As far as the women’s competition is concerned, the top team from each group and the three best second-placed teams will progress to the quarterfinals.
India enjoyed success in men’s football in the Asian Games, winning gold in the inaugural edition in 1951 and repeating the feat in 1962.
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had earlier refused to clear the Indian football teams for the Games on the ground that they were not ranked in the top-8 in Asia.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) then made an appeal to the Sports Ministry to allow the two sides to take part in the prestigious event with national senior team head coach Igor Stimac also seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention.
Since 2002, football in the Asian Games has been an U-23 affair with three players above that age being permitted in a team.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had made an appeal to the Sports Ministry to allow the men’s and women’s team, ranked 18th and 11th, to participate in the Asian Games on the back of their impressive showing in recent months.
The Indian team will now play in the Asian Games for the first time since 2014 after the same criteria had ruled it out of the 2018 Games in Jakarta.
Asian Games 2023 Men’s Draw
Group A: China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India
Group B: Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mongolia
Group C: Uzbekistan, Syria, Hong Kong, Afghanistan
Group D: Japan, Palestine, Qatar
Group E: South Korea, Bahrain, Thailand, Kuwait
Group F: North Korea, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Chinese Taipei
Asian Games 2023 Women’s Draw
However, in this edition of the Games the 24-year-old players are also eligible to play because of the one-year postponement of the Games owing to rising COVID cases in China last year.
Veteran striker Sunil Chhetri, first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and star defender Sandesh Jhingan are set to be part of the Indian men’s team as the three over-age players.
With lower-ranked Myanmar and Bangladesh in its group, the Indian men’s team will be expected to progress to the next round of the competition, while the women will also fancy their chances.
For the 2022 Asian Games, the date of birth cut off was January 1, 1999, and this cut off will remain, the organisers had decided in February. Also three overage players will be allowed to play in the football competition of the mega event.
The Indian men’s team currently occupies the 18th spot among countries under the Asian Football Confederation, while the women’s side is ranked 11th.
The Indian men’s team has entered the sub-100 club in the FIFA rankings once again, having won the SAFF Championship where it played against Lebanon and Kuwait. This year it also won the Intercontinental Cup and the tri-nation football tournament featuring Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar.
The women’s team has also done well, beating Kyrgyzstan twice in the Olympic Qualifiers Round 1.
The Asian Games will be held from September to October 8 but the football event starts on September 19, with the final scheduled for the penultimate day of the Games.
- EURO 2024 qualifiers points table LIVE: Cristiano Ronaldo helps Portugal lead Group J Albania tops Group E
- Messi deserves the Ballon d’Or: Mbappe
- F1 team bosses welcome GM without opening door to Andretti
- Germany keeper Ter Stegen ruled out of friendlies
- Rubiales ruled unfit to hold job in Spanish football for three years after kissing player