Record Hunters, Drought Breakers & Unique Chances – 12 AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifying Stories To Watch | Football | New
Kuala Lumpur: The road to the 2022 AFC India Women’s Asian Cup begins now, with 24 teams representing all of the world’s biggest continent competing for a place in the final in the days ahead.
Host India have already qualified, as are Japan, Australia and PR China, but the other eight teams in the new 12-team expanded final will all be determined in the coming weeks, with many opportunities for new faces to emerge alongside the region’s heavyweights. .
These qualifiers also serve as the starting point for the Asian qualifiers for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which will feature at least six teams from the continent.
With tantalizing and decisive fixtures to come, AFC.com breaks 12 intrigues to follow on the road to India.
Ji So-yun wants to break Cha Bum-kun’s record
Perhaps the biggest star of those qualifiers, remarkable Chelsea midfielder Ji So-yun’s 58 international goals already make her Korea Republic the all-time leading scorer.
If she finds the net against Mongolia or Uzbekistan, she will overtake the legendary Cha Bum-kun and stand out in the history of men’s or women’s football in the country.
Central Asia in the spotlight
Central Asia will be the center of Asian women’s football in the coming weeks, with six of the eight qualifying groups taking place in the region.
Groups E, F and G will all take place in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will host Groups B and C, while Myanmar, UAE, Guam and Lebanon will venture to the Kyrgyz Republic in Group D.
Vietnam’s ‘Best Luck’ Starts Here
The highest ranked Asian team to ever compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Vietnam’s attempt to erase that statistic begins now, with Tajikistan and Maldives standing in their way in the Group B based in Dushanbe.
With six Asian teams, including tournament host Australia, to advance to the world final in 2023, and two more to reach the interconfederation playoffs, Southeast Asia’s top team has made no secret of its conviction. that it was his time.
“This is the best chance Vietnamese football has to make the World Cup dream come true,” star striker Huynh Nhu said.
Teams back in action after long layoffs
Like many other things requiring international travel, several Asia Women’s National Team programs have been severely affected by COVID-19, but the international game will come to life in these qualifiers.
Many teams will compete for the first time since the start of the pandemic, marking the end of one of the most difficult times in recent history.
Team Melli Baanovaan aim to eclipse Jordan
Jordan, recently crowned Arab Cup winners, have established themselves as both AFC Women’s Asian Cup regulars and West Asia’s top team over the past decade. , but the Islamic Republic of Iran will aim to destroy them on the way to India.
Led by head coach Maryam Irandoost, the improving Iranian squad prepared with matches against Belarus and Uzbekistan, with the September 25 clash between the two teams shaping up as a group decision maker.
The unfinished business of the Philippines
With one victory away from reaching the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the Philippines have spent the past three years wanting another chance to compete with the best on the continent.
Tashkent-based Group F, which also includes Hong Kong and Nepal, won’t be easy, but it’s a hurdle the Malditas must overcome if their dream of appearing on the world stage is to come true.
How far can Lebanese youth go?
Despite minimal success at the senior level and not even making the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers, Lebanon has emerged as a powerhouse in women’s football at the youth level in recent years, turning heads. and winning the regional silverware.
Exciting young players like Hanin Tamim (photo below, right), Lili Iskandar and Christy Maalouf will have the chance to unleash their talent on the senior scene, can this take Lebanon to their very first AFC Women’s Asian Cup?
Emerging stars ready to shine
It’s not just Lebanon entering the Qualifiers with exciting youngsters, with Road to India 2022 sure to unearth some of the stars of the next generation of women’s football in Asia.
Cho Mi-jin from the Republic of Korea, Kanyanat Chetthabutr from Thailand and Bangladeshi goalkeeper Rupna Chakma (photo below) have all shone at AFC youth tournaments in recent years, now the senior stadium is theirs.
ASEAN battle between Singapore and Indonesia
Korea DPR’s withdrawal from qualifying competition has created a major opportunity for Southeast Asian rivals Singapore and Indonesia, who are set to face each other in two crucial matches.
Singapore hasn’t been in the tournament proper since 2003, while Indonesia has been in the desert since 1989, but back-to-back matches in Dushanbe will send one to India in 2022.
Bahrain in pursuit of history in Arad
A pioneering nation of West Asian women’s football, Bahrain has never made it to the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, but the 2022 edition is surely their best chance, with their qualifiers taking place at the stadium. Al Muharraq.
Laos and, in particular, Chinese Taipei stand out as tough opponents, but head coach Khaled Mohamed Harban will be keenly aware of the opportunity presented to his players.
Australian Phillips wants to lead Nepal to glory
Former coach of the National Men’s League champions in Australia, Gary Phillips is now tasked with leading Nepal’s charge towards what would be their first AFC Women’s Asian Cup since 1999.
With quality opponents like the Philippines and Hong Kong on their way, and talismanic striker Sabitra Bhandari injured, it won’t be easy, but it will be fascinating to see the Australian’s impact on the South Asian team. .
Uzbekistan tries to bring down a giant
Drawn for the second consecutive round of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup alongside Asian giants Republic of Korea, Uzbekistan will look to maximize the home advantage in their attempt to achieve a major upset .
International stars like Ji So-yun, Lee Geum-min and Cho So-hyun are in town, but Uzbekistan is well prepared and constantly improving, setting the stage for a successful group decision maker on September 23.