The Round 2 draw of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 concluded in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today. The draw was conducted by FIFA Director of Competitions Christian Unger and Australian legend Tim Cahill.
The 40 member associations have been drawn into eight groups of five teams and compete in a double round-robin format, with matches to be held from September 5, 2019 to June 9, 2020.
India were drawn in Group E alongside 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar, Bangladesh, Oman and Afghanistan.
Moments after the draw, Indian National Team Head Coach Igor Štimac labelled it as “a very tough challenge.”
“It will be an enormous challenge for your young team. We have been drawn into a very tough group,” Štimac told the-aiff.com.
Without singling out any single team, Štimac stated that “we need to respect every opposition.”
“We need to respect everyone – not only just teams from Pot 1, and Pot 2, but even teams from Pot 3, and Pot 4 too,” the coach explained. “The Hero Intercontinental Cup showed to all how strange a game Football us. The two teams which are playing the final (Tajikistan, and DPR Korea) are the lowest FIFA ranked teams in the tournament. That shows that everyone can beat everyone.”
“I will teach the team to respect the opposition, but when we step on to the pitch, we will do everything to win. That is the way I am going to prepare my team. We are just at the beginning of our journey. I hope that it will be a long one,” he added.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals and the final round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining twelve slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Asian Qualifiers – Groups
China PR, Syria, Philippines, Maldives, Guam
Australia, Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait, Nepal
IR Iran, Iraq, Bahrein, Hong Kong, Cambodia
Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen, Singapore
Bangladesh, Oman, India, Afghanistan, Qatar
Japan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Mongolia
UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia
Korea Republic, Lebanon, DPR Korea, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka