2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Round 2: India drawn alongside hosts Qatar in Group E of Asian qualifiers

Kuala Lumpur: The Asian qualifiers draw for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 were concluded on Wednesday. India were drawn alongside neighbours Bangladesh and Afghanistan in what looked to be a relatively easier draw until the remaining two slots in the five-member group went to Oman and World Cup hosts Qatar.

There are eight such groups with five teams each. The eight group winners and the four best runners-up will advance to the final round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup. The remaining 24 teams would be out of contention for qualifying for the World Cup but could still qualify for the Asia Cup when they participate in another round of qualifiers to determine the remaining 12 teams in the 24-team Asia Cup to be hosted by China in 2023.

Earlier, the 40 teams were divided into five pots, based on their seedings, which were in turn, determined by their world rankings. India were placed in Pot 3 with Palestine, Bahrain, Thailand, DPR Korea, Tajikistan, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines.

All teams will compete in a double round-robin format (home and away) set to take place from 5 September, 2019, to 9 June, 2020. India will begin their qualifying campaign against Oman at home on 5 September this year.

Before the draw, India's most capped footballer Sunil Chhetri explained his experiences with the Asian and World Cup Qualifiers draw, saying that "all the maths goes out the window with the draw" and that luck is a big factor.

India tentative fixtures in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

1. 5 September, 2019  – India vs Oman

2. 10 September, 2019 – Bangladesh vs India

3. 15 October, 2019 – India vs Qatar

4. 14 November, 2019 – Afghanistan vs India

5. 19 November, 2019 – Oman vs India

6. 26 March, 2020 – India vs Bangladesh

7. 4 June, 2020 – Qatar vs India

8. 9 June, 2020 – India vs Afghanistan

The draw ceremony was hosted by Australian football legend Tim Cahill who also played for Jamshedpur FC in the Indian Super League last season.

In other news from the Asian Qualifiers, North Korea and South Korea have been drawn together in Group H. The Korean neighbours will play each other home and away in the five-nation group that includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka. Saudi Arabia and Yemen were also paired in Wednesday's draw that involved 40 national teams and some political sensitivities.

The Saudis, which played at the 2018 World Cup, are top-seeded in Group D that also has Uzbekistan, Palestine and Singapore. Top-ranked Iran was drawn with neighbouring Iraq, plus Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia, in Group C.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) is top-seeded in a Group G loaded with Southeast Asian derbies, involving Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Group G has been billed as a mini 'ASEAN' group considering that all the teams in this group, except the UAE, are part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is a regional organisation.

Australia will play Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B. World Cup host Qatar also plays as this group stage doubles up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup being played in China. China is in Group A with Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam. Japan is in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia. The eight groups play from September through June.  


Updated Date: Jul 17, 2019 17:28:38 IST