New Delhi,28 July: Indian has been drawn in relatively easy Group A with hosts China, Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Asian Games Football Tournament to be held in Hangzhou.
The Indian women’s team is placed in tough Group B with Chinese Taipei, and Thailand. The official Asian Games team draws were held in Hangzhou on Thursday.
India, 99th in the latest FIFA rankings, will be the second-best ranked team in their group behind China (80th). Myanmar are ranked 160th while Bangladesh are 189th.
India won gold medals at the New Delhi 1951 and Jakarta 1962 Asian Games while clinching a bronze at Bangkok 1970. The 2023 Hangzhou Games will be the 16th Asian Games appearance
The men’s football tournament at the Asian Games will be a U-23 affair with a maximum of three senior players allowed in each squad. A total of 23 teams will compete for medals at Hangzhou.
For the group stage, the teams have been divided into six groups - five with four each and one with three. South Korea, who are the reigning champions and the most successful team in the competition with five gold medals, are in Group E.
The top two teams of each group and four best third-placed teams across all groups will progress to the round of 16.
The women’s football tournament will involve 17 senior teams, who have been divided into five groups.
The Indian women, ranked 60th, will be the lowest-ranked team in Group B. Chinese Taipei (37th) and Thailand (44th) are both better-ranked sides than India.
Reigning women’s champions Japan is in Group D while China and Korea, both three-time gold medalists, are in Group A and Group C, respectively.
The top teams from each group and the three best second-placed teams across groups will make the quarter-finals in the women’s tournament.
The Indian women’s team has played in only two Asian Games so far, finishing eighth at Bangkok 1998 and ninth at Incheon 2014. Women’s football debuted at the Asian Games in 1990 while men’s football has been a part of the continental event since the inaugural edition in 1951.
Indian men’s and women’s football teams didn’t participate in the last edition of the Asian Games - Jakarta 2018. This is because the Indian sports ministry had mandated that only sports teams which have been ranked eighth or better in Asia over the past year could represent India at the continental meet. Neither team matched the criteria.
The same regulations were in place for Hangzhou 2023 as well but it was later relaxed by the ministry to facilitate participation of the two football teams in Hangzhou.
Groups : Men’s
Group A: China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, Group B: Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mongolia
Group C: Uzbekistan, Syria, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Group D: Japan, Palestine, Qatar
Group E: South Korea, Bahrain, Thailand, Kuwait, Group F: North Korea, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Chinese Taipei
Group A: China, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Group B: Chinese Taipei, Thailand, India
Group C: North Korea, Singapore, Cambodia, Group D: Japan, Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh
Group E: South Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines, Myanmar