The second round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers was complicated in itself. General sports fans have to work hard to understand. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had made some arrangements for all the teams to play in this phase, in a way it was a choice not to be left empty handed.
Because it was not only a World Cup selection, but also an Asian Cup selection. Again, this is why the equation of the second stage of selection was made difficult. and, exciting too. The second phase ended on Tuesday.
The AFC made another big decision on Wednesday, the day after it ended. Two years before the tournament in China, 22 teams have been announced. These 22 teams are ranked 14th to 35th at the end of the second round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers. After this decision, the fate of many like Nepal is open. Now you can start preparing for the Asian Cup qualifiers with confidence.
This one decision of AFC has also made the equation of Asian Cup selection easier. There, Nepal and some other countries will be able to dream of playing in the Asian Cup. The election will take place from February 1 to 27, 2022. A total of 24 teams will participate in this selection. The other two teams will be decided from the playoffs. The playoff teams are Indonesia, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei and Guam. These four teams are ranked 36th to 39th.
The selection 24 teams will be divided into 6 groups and the league stage games will be played. These games will also be based on the ‘Home and Away’ round robin. The top six teams in each group will automatically qualify for the Asian Cup. After that, the top six teams in the second round of the group will also get to play in the Asian Cup. Thus, 11 teams will play in the Asian Cup from this selection stage. That means less than half of the 24 will play in the Asian Cup. There will be 24 teams in the Asian Cup.
Out of them, 13 teams have already been selected. These are the lucky teams, with defending champions Qatar, Syria, China, Australia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Japan, UAE, Vietnam, South Korea and Lebanon. Apart from these teams, there are three teams in the third place of their group in the Asian World Cup qualifiers. These are Kuwait, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
All the 16 teams in the third and fourth place have also been selected to play in the Asian Cup. Third place is the Philippines, Jordan, Bahrain, Palestine, India, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Turkmenistan. The fourth place teams are Maldives, Nepal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Yemen, Bangladesh and Myanmar, on the other hand, qualified for the Asian Cup qualifiers despite finishing fifth and fifth respectively.
The draw will take place on June 24 at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. Nepal is in the fourth position according to its ranking. At the end of the second round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers, 12 teams will now play the third round. These teams are 12 of the 13 teams that will play the Asian Cup directly. Qatar will not have to play in the World Cup. These 12 teams will be divided into two groups based on the ‘Home and Away’ round robin.
The top two teams from each group will advance to the World Cup finals. The team in the third round of each group will advance to the fourth round of selection. This stage will be a single playoff game, not a two leg game. The winner will play in the intercontinental playoffs. Along with Asia, there will be four teams from North and Central America, South America and Oceania, one by one. From this, two teams will play the final stage of the World Cup.