India will play Hong Kong in its last third-round qualifier for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The final position of the Blue Tigers in the table will also be decided in this fixture along with its fate for the AFC Asian Cup.
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Irrespective of today's result, though, India's fate in qualification is sealed after Philippines lost 4-0 to Palestine, qualifying for the tournament for the fifth time.
The AFC Asian Cup 2023 already has 13 teams confirmed, while India, along with 23 other countries, is competing for the remaining 11 spots.
These 24 countries have been divided into six groups of four each and the Blue Tigers are in Group D, alongside Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Cambodia.
All group toppers from the groups and the best five second-ranked teams will qualify.
India comes into the match after a hard-fought win against Afghanistan, thanks to a stunning free-kick goal by Sunil Chhetri and an injury-time winner by Kerala Blasters’ youngster Sahal Abdul Samad.
With the win, India is tied on points with Hong Kong on top of the table but sits second on goal difference. Going into the match, the question that will worry the aficionados of Indian Football would be whether India can go through.
What if teams end up tied on points?
In case two teams are tied on points, there will be a number of factors that will be looked into for determining the positions among them.
- Head-to-head criteria: The teams tied will be looked on three factors on H2H basis for Points earned, goal difference and goals scored
If more than two teams are tied, the head-to-head criteria are iterated in subsets and evn then if it remains tied, the further factors are:
- Goal difference in the group matches
- Goals scored in the group matches
- A penalty shoot-out will determine the winner if only the two teams are tied and they have met in the last round of the group;
- Disciplinary points (yellow card = 1 point, red card as a result of two yellow cards = 3 points, direct red card = 3 points, yellow card followed by direct red card = 4 points)
After all the above steps, if two or more teams still remain tied, the qualification will be decided by drawing lots, something that seems extremely unlikely.
How can India qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 finals?
Scenario 1: The match ends in a draw
If the match ends in a draw, Hong Kong ends the qualification round as group toppers and will earn automatic qualification. India will still go through as one of the five group runners-up.
The other two teams, Afghanistan and Cambodia are out of contention with two losses in the qualifiers.
Scenario 2: India wins against Hong Kong
India has maintained its 100 per cent win record in the third-round qualifiers so far and if it pulls off a win, it will end the qualifying campaign on top of the group, going into the finals as the first team from Group D.
Scenario 3: India loses to Hong Kong
If India loses to Hong Kong, it will still end up as one of the runner-up teams and will go through to the finals.
India Squad for the last match against Hong Kong:
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