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2022 Women's Asian Cup: Hosts India drawn with China, Chinese Taipei and Iran

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Kuala Lumpur, Oct 28 (IANS) The Indian senior women’s national football team were on Thursday handed a tough draw at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup as they were clubbed alongside eight-time champions China, two-time winners Chinese Taipei and Iran.

India, ranked 57th in the FIFA charts, are the third-highest ranked side in the group behind China (17th) and Chinese Taipei (40th) and ahead of Iran (72nd).

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The draw ceremony was held at the Asian Football Confederations (AFC) headquarters in the Malaysian capital on Thursday. Notably, India is scheduled to host the tournament from January 20 to February 6 at venues in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Pune.

“It is an exciting group. We respect all our opponents as all of them are strong teams who have qualified for the AFC Asian Cup India 2022. But we are ready to play any team,” India’s head coach Thomas Dennerby said after the draw.

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“I don’t consider any particular match as a key one. All three matches are key matches for us in the group stage. We need to do our job over 90 minutes every time we enter the field,” the coach maintained.

Host India began their campaign against Iran on January 20, 2022, followed by matches against Chinese Taipei on January 23, 2022, and China on January 26.

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The Indian team has been camping in Jamshedpur with logistical and infrastructural aid from the government of Jharkhand since September. In the midst of the camp, the team had also gone on an exposure tour to UAE, Bahrain and Sweden, where they played against international teams like UAE, Tunisia, Bahrain and Chinese Taipei.

The side has also played two friendlies against Swedish Damallsvenskan (Tier 1) clubs Hammarby IF and Djurgarden IF.

“The AFC Women’s Asian Cup is the premier flagship tournament for women’s football in our continent, and I’m proud and happy that India is going to be the host for the 2022 edition,” said All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel.

“I thank the AFC, AIFF and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for jointly working together to bring a fantastic tournament not only for the fans in India, but also for all of the Asian continent. The AFC had recently come and inspected all the facilities in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Pune. We are looking forward to welcoming all the 12 teams to our beautiful country, and I am confident they will be satisfied with the facilities, and hospitality,” he added.

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 will add further drama and excitement with the leading five teams earning direct tickets to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

The next best two teams from the Playoff matches will also represent Asia at the Inter-Confederation Playoff matches.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Dato Windsor John said: “The AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 promises to be another great celebration throughout the continent. Together with the All India Football Federation and the Local Organising Committee, we are confident of staging a remarkable tournament that will leave a legacy for many years to come.”

“I must congratulate the teams who have qualified and will line up along with the top three teams from the last edition and our hosts India,” he added.

–IANS

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