Draw sets stage as Asians tussle for five tickets

28 Oct 2021
  • The draw for the next AFC Women’s Asian Cup has been made

  • The tournament will take place in India in early 2022

  • Five automatic tickets to the FIFA Women’s World Cup are on offer

Asia's hopefuls have learned the hurdles they must overcome in order to progress to the FIFA World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™. The draw for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022, which will offer five automatic tickets to the global finals, was made today at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The hosts have been handed tough tests in China PR and Chinese Taipei in Group A. The latter pair have won the continental title 11 times between them. The section also features tournament debutants IR Iran. Australia will be the overwhelming favourites to win Group B, but the battle for its second ticket to the knockout phase seems wide open between Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Holders Japan and Korea Republic cross paths in Group C, which also features fast-rising Vietnam and Myanmar, both of whom are seeking their maiden Women's World Cup qualification. The 20th edition of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, which runs from 20 January to 6 February 2022, will be the largest in history following its expansion from eight to 12 teams. The top five finishers will progress, joining hosts Australia and New Zealand at the global finals, while the sixth- and seventh-placed sides will head into the inter-confederation play-offs.

Format

The top two in each group will advance to the quarter-finals, along with the best two third-placed teams.

Australia & New Zealand 2023 tickets

The top five finishers at India 2022 will qualifying for the global finals. If Australia finish among the top five, the sixth-placed team will also advance to the Women's World Cup.

Intriguing matches

India-Chinese Taipei The Blue Tigresses can take heart from their 1979 campaign. Back then, India, who hosted the tournament as they will in 2022, held Chinese Taipei to a surprise 0-0 draw in the group stage before storming all the way to the final, where they were beaten by the same opponents in another tight game. Thomas Dennerby, who coached Sweden at two FIFA Women’s World Cups, will hope to entrust the outstanding Bala Devi with causing an upset, although the Rangers star is a fitness doubt as she recovers from knee surgery. Echigo Kazuo's visitors, for their part, will hope to maintain their undefeated record against India boosted by their rampaging form during the qualifiers.

Thailand-Philippines With Australia the undisputed favourites to win the pool, its focus will be on Thailand versus Philippines in a fascinating, south-east Asian affair. Miyo Okamoto's Thails have the mental edge, having won the regional title a record four times. Notably, they emerged 4-2 winners over the Philippines in their last meeting in the AFF Women's Championship in 2019. Alen Stajcic's Filipinas, however, showed much-improved performances during their recent qualification campaign, where they overcame Nepal and Hong Kong to progress as group winners. They can look to veteran midfielder Tahnai Annis, who was twice on target during the preliminaries.

Japan-Korea Republic AFC Women’s Asian Cup holders Japan, under new coach Futoshi Ikeda, boast Sweden-based Yuka Momiki, who struck the winner in the two sides' last meeting in the EAFF E-1 Football Championship. Colin Bell's Korea Republic, too, can count on their Europe-based stars, who impressed in a recent 0-0 draw with world champions USA. Shouldering the scoring tasks will be Tottenham Hotspur attacker Cho Sohyun, who netted three times in the last edition as they finished fifth.

What they said

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. I don’t consider any particular match as a key one. All three matches are key matches for us in the group stage.” Thomas Dennerby, India coach “It is an exciting to learn the draw results and we are looking forward to compete against Asia's best teams. Our group opponents are tough. India can count on home advantage and both Chinese Taipei and Iran have strengths of their own. We will work hard and sharpen our form in the domestic league to get ourselves prepared for the Women's Asian Cup.” Wang Shuang, China PR forward “I'm pleased with the draw results. We will face the Philippines, Thailand and one of the biggest teams in this tournament: Australia. We are optimistic for the matches. We’re looking forward to securing one of the top two spots and reaching the knockout phase. We have to work hard as a team." Rudy Eka Priyambada, Indonesia coach “We have a difficult group. Korea Republic and Japan are very strong and Myanmar are not a team to underestimate. In general, all matches will be difficult and we have to play each game like a final. We need to work hard and not let the opportunities slip away.” Huynh Nhu, Vietnam captain “Like any other draw in the world, it always provides some peculiarities. I knew that Australia would somehow fall in my group. It's an interesting tournament. It's the first time it's going to 12 teams, so it's going to present different challenges, different teams, and an extra match as well. We now know who we will play, and we are now focused on targeting that first match and making sure we are ready to go.” Alen Stajcic, Philippines coach “The first match against Myanmar will be very important in order to get off to a good start. However, if we are to win this competition, the games against Vietnam and Korea Republic will be equally important too. We'll start analysing how to prepare for each match, but at the same time we are a new team. We need to focus on ourselves in the two months leading up to the Asian Cup.” Futoshi Ikeda, Japan coach "This is another opportunity for all the playing group – new players, young players, current players, players returning into contention for selection – to find that drive or strengthen the resolve and create that energy, despite already qualifying for World Cup, to still perform. At the end of the day, in a high-performance sport and environment that's what it's all about." Tony Gustavsson, Australia coach