The AFC Women’s Football Committee applauded the AFC Member Associations (MAs) at its third meeting held virtually today for their determination in ensuring the successful resumption of the ongoing 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup – India Qualifiers, particularly against the backdrop of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Led by Chairperson Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, the Committee congratulated the six nations – Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam – for clinching their places during the September international window.
They will join Japan, Australia, China and host India who have automatically qualified for the final stage of the Competition scheduled to take place from January 20 to February 6 next year.
At the same time, the Committee also thanked the host MAs – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Palestine – for staging the centralised groups and wished the remaining teams in Groups A and D, who will compete in Bahrain and Kyrgyz Republic respectively, – the very best of success in their quest to seal the final two spots for the Continent’s ultimate women’s showpiece.
The Committee was also updated on the progress of the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup – India and underlined their confidence in host India’s capabilities towards staging a truly memorable tournament, one that will showcase the undeniable world-class talent of Asian women’s football.
The Committee also approved the qualification criteria in establishing Asia’s representatives for the upcoming FIFA women’s age-group tournaments.
The Committee agreed that the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship – Thailand and the 2019 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship – Thailand will be considered as the qualifying competitions for the 2022 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup – India and 2022 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup – Costa Rica respectively, following the cancellations of the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup and the AFC U17 Women’s Asian Cup in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Committee noted that the qualifying teams from both AFC competitions in 2019 were not given the opportunity to represent the Continent following the cancellation of both FIFA age-group tournaments in 2020.
Therefore, the decision effectively sees Japan and North Korea join hosts India as the AFC’s three representatives in the upcoming FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup scheduled to take place from October 11 to 30, 2022, with Japan, North Korea and South Korea selected as Asia’s three sides at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which will be held from August 10 to 28 in Costa Rica.
In anticipation of the uncertainties that may arise due to the pandemic, the Committee also agreed that in the unfortunate event of possible withdrawals from the respective FIFA competitions, the next highest ranked team from the respective qualification competitions will represent Asia accordingly.
The Committee also agreed to the composition of the COVID-19 Sub-Committee for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup – India and acknowledged the challenges faced by the AFC’s MAs in competing in the Qualifiers and agreed that the withdrawals of Afghanistan, North Korea, Iraq, Macau and Turkmenistan were constituted as events of force majeure.
Additionally, in recognising the preference of host MAs to gain valuable exposure, both off and on the pitch, by participating in the qualifying competitions despite receiving an automatic spot in the Finals, the Committee agreed to allow host MAs to participate in the Qualifiers, though such matches will have no bearing on the final group rankings and in determining the best positioned teams among all the groups in the respective Qualifiers.