India was drawn in group B in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 at the Katara Opera House in Doha on Thursday. It got the fourth spot (B4) in the group. Australia, Syria and Uzbekistan are the other teams drawn in that group.
India qualified in two consecutive editions of the tournament for the first time in its history and its groupings will be finalised on Thursday.
After the Philippines lost to Palestine, India secured its qualification even before its last qualifying game against Hong Kong. But the Blue Tigers completes the campaign, winning all the games.
“The last time the AFC Asian Cup was played in Qatar was 12 years ago, and there has been great progress since then. We have also initiated key enhancements. There are 24 teams in the AFC Asian Cup now, a new trophy, and $15 million in prize money,” Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said before the draw.
“The impact is clear to see. On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to express our gratitude to the QFA and the LOC, and we also thank the 24 participating nations. The stage is now set for a truly memorable chapter in the history of the tournament. We wish all the teams the very best,” he added.
This will be India’s fifth appearance in the AFC Asian Cup, with the Blue Tigers having participated at the continental level in 1964, 1984, 2011, and 2019 previously.
Their best finish in Asia has been a runners-up place in the 1964 edition of the competition.
“It’s tough. Much tougher than it was for India four years ago, in the Asian Cup 2019, but we’re gonna be there and do our best to give them a good fight,” Igor Stimac, India’s head coach said after the draw.
“It’s about time to prepare well…. And be the strongest possible squad that we can be in January.”
International referee Yoshimi Yamashita, former footballers Tim Cahill, Hassan Al Haydos, Park Ji-sung, Server Djeparov, Sun Wen and India’s women’s under-17 team head coach Maymol Rocky were present at the draw.
“This is the first time that India has qualified for consecutive editions of the AFC Asian Cup, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for our country to be back at this stage. I’m sure the team has prepared very well, and hope we can create history by qualifying for the Round of 16,” Rocky said.
Complete breakdown of groups in the AFC Asian Cup:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D||Group E||Group F|
|Tajikistan||Syria||Hong Kong||Iraq||Jordan||Kyrgyz Republic|
“Asia has come a long way, in terms of football. We played Uzbekistan before and year, we are looking to play against them here,” Graham Arnold, Australia’s head coach said after the draw.
The Soccerroos have spent substantial amount of time in Qatar, even before the FIFA World Cup, and confirmed its spot in the tournament with a penalty-shootout win over Peru in the Inter-continental playoff.
“It’s (Qatar)been a home away from home for Australia for the last couple of years and we are looking to get the Asian Cup underway,” Arnold added.
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