Asia’s contenders will take their first step towards clinching their places in the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup – India when the qualifiers begin on Friday.
The Continent’s marquee women’s national team competition will be the biggest in recent history with 12 teams vying for the coveted trophy when the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup takes place in India from January 20 to February 6.
A total of 24 competing teams have been divided into eight groups with the winner of each group joining the reigning champions Japan, 2018 runners-up Australia and third-placed China as well as hosts India in the Finals.
All qualifying matches will be played in centralised venues with Bahrain hosting Group A and Tajikistan staging Group B and C. Kyrgyz Republic will be the destination for Group D followed by Group E, F and G, hosted by Uzbekistan, while Group H matches will be held in Palestine.
Group A and B will consist of three teams while Group C will have two teams vying for a ticket to India 2022. The action will kick off on September 17 in Group E when Mongolia, who are seeking their first appearance in the Finals, face South Korea, who finished third in 2003, at the Pakhtakor Stadium in Tashkent at 4pm (local time).
In Group F, debutants Nepal will take on Philippines, who are aiming to qualify for the showpiece for an impressive 10th time at the JAR Stadium at 3pm on the following day.
All eyes will be on the 2018 hosts Jordan and Bangladesh who will go head-to-head for the sole spot available in Group G at Bunyodkor Stadium on September 19. On the same day, Southeast Asian rivals Malaysia take on Thailand at the Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium in Al-Ram in Group H.
The attention will then shift to Group B when Maldives start their campaign by entertaining Vietnam, who are vying to reach the Finals for the ninth time on September 23 before Singapore meet Indonesia at the Republican Central Stadium in Dushanbe on September 24.
The matches in Group A, comprising Chinese Taipei, Bahrain and Laos, as well as Group D, which include Myanmar, the United Arab Emirates, Guam and Lebanon, have been rescheduled to October.
The 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup – India will also serve as the gateway to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with the five leading Asian teams qualifying for the global women’s showpiece and two intercontinental playoff places also up for grabs.