AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022: Revisiting India's past appearances in elite continental event

India have had a mixed run at the Women’s Asian Cup since its inception in 1975, finishing second on a couple of occasions while failing to make the cut in several others, having not qualified for the competition since 2003.

FP Sports January 19, 2022 11:30:18 IST
AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022: Revisiting India's past appearances in elite continental event

Indian Women's Football Team for AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022. Image: Twitter/@IndianFootball

The India women’s football team will be hoping to mark their return to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup after more than a decade with an inspiring display and give some of the powerhouses a run for their money.

The ‘Blue Tigresses’ will be hosting the premier continental competition for the second time in its 47-year history, the nation having earlier hosted the 1979 edition. The tournament is scheduled to kick off on 20 January, with the four quarter-finals taking place 10 days later. The semi-finals will take place on 3 February, while the summit clash is scheduled for 6 February. Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune have been selected as the venues for the 20th edition of the tournament.

India have had a mixed run at the Women’s Asian Cup since its inception in 1975, finishing second on a couple of occasions while failing to make the cut in several others, having not qualified for the competition since 2003.

The tournament will also be an important one for the Thomas Dennerby-coached and Ashalata Devi-captained side in their hopes of making their maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup, which takes place next year and will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand and will be expanded to 32 teams from the 24 that had participated in 2019.

Before India gets its campaign underway against Iran at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday, we take a look at how the team fared in each of its eight appearances in the tournament:

1979:

After failing to qualify in the first two editions of what was then a biennial tournament in 1977 and 1979, India’s maiden appearance in the competition was the result of the nation being awarded hosting rights. Kozhikode’s (then Calicut) EMS Stadium hosted all the matches that took place. It happens to be the only tournament in which India fielded two sides — India S and India N. While the latter finished bottom of the six-team group with a win and four losses, India S finished second with three wins from five games. India S then beat Hong Kong 3-1 in the semis, before finishing runners-up after a 2-0 loss to Chinese Taipei in the final.

1981:

The fourth edition of the tournament was hosted by Hong Kong. India, competing as a single team this time, were put alongside the hosts as well as Singapore and the Philippines as the tournament was now split into two groups. India finished on top with two wins from three games, including an 8-0 mauling of Philippines. India then lost to Thailand 1-0 in the semi-final, but managed to end the tournament on a happy note with a 2-0 win over the hosts to finish third in the tournament. Chinese Taipei, meanwhile had completed a hat-trick of titles with a 5-0 win over Thailand.

1983:

After being split into two groups two years ago, the tournament reverted to the round-robin format following Japan and Chinese Taipei’s late withdrawals, leaving six teams in the fray. India finished second in the group with four wins from five games, their only loss coming at the hands of hosts Thailand. Unlike the previous editions though, there were no semi-finals this time around. Malaysia beat Singapore on penalties in the third-fourth place playoff, while Thailand handed India a 3-0 defeat to finally win their maiden title after falling short thrice in four previous editions. India, meanwhile, were becoming consistent in this tournament, having finished in the top three a third consecutive time.

1995:

After an impressive run between 1979 and 1983, India would fail to qualify for the tournament in the next four editions, marking their return to the tournament in 1995 in Malaysia. It would be a disappointing outing for the Blue Tigresses however, as they got off to a shaky start with a 1-0 loss to Uzbekistan, and were routed by Japan and South Korea by 6-0 and 5-0 margins respectively to finish at the bottom of Group C in the 11-team tournament split across three groups. China would go on to beat Japan in the final to win their fifth title in a row.

1997:

The tournament, which was hosted by defending champions China for a second time, continued with the 11-team format as the previous one, with two groups having four teams each and a third one having only three (the three group toppers automatically qualifying for the semis along with the best-performing second-placed side). India, placed alongside Japan, Hong Kong and Guam, finished second in their group with two wins from their games. They suffered a narrow 1-0 loss to Japan and though they bounced back with a 10-0 win over Guam, it was not enough to get them through to the semis as North Korea — placed second in Group B, made it to the last four on a superior goal difference.

1999:

The number of participating teams swelled to 15 from 11 for this edition, hosted for the first time in Philippines, the sides divided into three groups of five teams each with India in the company of 1997 runners-up North Korea, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam and Malaysia. The Indians could not have got off to a worse start, losing to North Korea 7-0. They would bounce back with a 3-0 win over Malaysia, but sadly for them, that would be their only win in the tournament as they bowed out with defeats against Vietnam and Chinese Taipei. China, meanwhile, would end up winning their seventh title on the trot, beating Chinese Taipei in the final.

2001:

Chinese Taipei hosted the first AFC Women’s Asian Cup of the new millennium, with a total of 14 teams divided across three groups — five teams each in Groups A and B, and four in Group C. The Blue Tigresses’ hopes were pretty much over after they leaked 12 goals in their first two games, losing to South Korea and Chinese Taipei 7-0 and 5-0 respectively. A 1-0 defeat against Thailand turned out to be the knockout blow. The Indians, however, would avoid the wooden spoon in the group by beating Malaysia 3-0. North Korea would later go on to shock China in the semi-final, ending the latter’s 15-year reign as champions, before defeating Japan in the final for their maiden crown.

2003:

The format of the 2003 edition was the same as the previous one, 14 teams split across three groups, with India finding themselves alongside China, Vietnam and Uzbekistan in the four-team Group C. Unlike their previous campaign though, India started off with a rousing 6-0 victory over the Uzbeks. Any hopes of making it to the semis for the first time in two decades however, were quickly dashed with a 12-0 loss to seven-time winners China in the next game. India fought hard against Vietnam in the final game, but ended on the losing side by a 2-1 margin to bow out of the event, finishing third in their group. This would, incidentally, be the last time the Indians would qualify for the premier continental competition until 18 years later, when they would make the cut on the basis of being the hosts.

Updated Date:

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