New Delhi– The Indian football team has been clubbed in Group E alongside Bangladesh, Oman, Afghanistan and hosts Qatar after the draw for the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar was held at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The 34 top-ranked Asian sides as per the FIFA world rankings for June are joined in the second round by the six winners (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guam, Malaysia, Mongolia and Sri Lanka) of the Round 1 ties.
The competing nations were drawn into eight groups of five teams, with a side from each of the below pots (also determined by June’s FIFA rankings) making up the five-team pools.
The matches in the second round will be played from September 5 to June 9, 2020. The group winners and four best runners-up (12 teams in total) will advance to the third round of Asian World Cup qualifiers.
The group stage will be played in a double round-robin format where all teams will face each other twice in home and away conditions.
India are likely to face some tough competition from hosts Qatar, given their impressive performance in the recently-concluded Copa America, while Oman could also pose some difficult challenges.
On the other hand, the Blue Tigers are expected to easily get the better of Afghanistan and Bangladesh, against whom India have strong records.
Round 2 draw:
Group A: China PR, Syria, Philippines, Maldives, Guam
Group B: Australia, Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait, Nepal
Group C: Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Cambodia
Group D: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen, Singapore
Group E: Bangladesh, Oman, India, Afghanistan, Qatar
Group F: Japan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Mongolia
Group G: UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia
Group H: Korea Republic, Lebanon, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka (IANS)