The Sports Ministry on Wednesday exempted the Indian men’s and women’s football teams and allowed them to participate in the upcoming Asian Games 2023, to be played in Hangzhou, China from September 23.
The Sports Ministry’s rule states that only the top eight teams can play in the Asian Games 2023 and the Indian national football men’s and women’s teams are currently ranked 18th and 11th respectively. However, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday confirmed the Indian team’s participation in the continental showpiece event, giving an exemption.
Recently the Indian men’s football team won the SAFF Championship and the Intercontinental Cup. After this, the craze of football continued to grow among the fans. Men’s national team head coach Igor Stimac had also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and allow the team’s participation.
The Indian team will now play in the Asian Games 2023 for the first time since 2014, as they couldn’t play the 2018 Games in Jakarta due to the same rules. Football in the Asian Games is a U-23 tournament in which three players over that age can also play in a team.
Meanwhile, India’s men’s football team have been grouped with China, Bangladesh, and Myanmar for the Asian Games 2023 while the women have been grouped with Chinese Taipei and Thailand. The Asian Games 2023 proper will start on September 23, and the football event starts on September 19. The final will happen on the penultimate day of the Games, October 7.
- 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, Kuwait, Thailand, Kuwait
- Group F: North Korea, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Chinese Taipei
Top two teams of each group and four best third-placed team will advance to the round of 16.
- 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
The top team from each group and the three best second placed teams will advance to the quarterfinals.