AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: India have been drawn in Group B of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, after the draw ceremony was conducted at the Qatar Opera House, in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
The Blue Tigers, who are ranked 101 in the FIFA Rankings, and will be playing the AFC Asian Cup for the fifth time, are set to meet Australia (ranked 29th), Uzbekistan (ranked 74th), and Syria (ranked 90th) in the tournament proper. AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey, Senior Men’s National Team head coach Igor Stimac, and Women’s national coach Maymol Rocky were present at the Qatar Opera House for the official draw ceremony.
Beginning from Pot 4, India were the first team to be drawn into Group B, gaining B4, after which they were successively placed alongside Syria (B3), Uzbekistan (B2) and Australia (B1), respectively.
Men's National Team head coach Igor Stimac said after the draw, 'We will be facing Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria in the AFC Asian Cup, and it's going to be a tough battle for us. It's much tougher than four years ago, but we will be there to fight every step of the way.
"It's all about the time we have in front of us to prepare well, to obtain the work that is needed, and to be at the strongest possible point by next January."
Speaking ahead of the Official Draw Ceremony, Asian Football Confederation President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said, “The last time the AFC Asian Cup was played in Qatar was 12 years ago, and there has been great progress since then. We have also initiated key enhancements. There are 24 teams in the AFC Asian Cup now, a new trophy, and $15 million in prize money. The impact is clear to see. On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to express our gratitude to the QFA and the LOC, and we also thank the 24 participating nations. The stage is now set for a truly memorable chapter in the history of the tournament. We wish all the teams the very best.”
Maymol Rocky, who was conducting the draw along with other representatives from around Asia, said, “This is the first time that India has qualified for consecutive editions of the AFC Asian Cup, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for our country to be back at this stage. I’m sure the team has prepared very well, and hope we can create history by qualifying for the Round of 16.”
In other groups, tournament hosts and defending champions Qatar are the top seeded team in Group A with their title defence to begin against two-time runners-up China PR, Tajikistan and Lebanon.
Three-time winners Islamic Republic of Iran, 1996 runners-up United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, China and Palestine will vie for the knockout stage spots in Group C while record four-time winners Japan, Indonesia, 2007 champions Iraq and Vietnam were drawn in Group D.
Twice champions Korea Republic, the top seeded team in Group E, will have Malaysia, Jordan and Bahrain to contend with while Group F will have three-time winners Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kyrgyz Republic and Oman fighting for the knockout stage spots.
The top two teams from each group will directly qualify for the Round of 16 of the AFC Asian Cup, while the four best third-placed teams will join them in the knockouts to make up the numbers.
Group A: Qatar, China PR, Tajikistan, Lebanon
Group B: Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, India
Group C: IR Iran, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Palestine
Group D: Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, Vietnam
Group E: Korea Republic, Malaysia, Jordan, Bahrain
Group F: Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kyrgyz Republic, Oman
INDIA FIXTURES IN GROUP B:
Jan 13: Australia vs India, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 17:00 IST
Jan 18: India vs Uzbekistan, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 20:00 IST
Jan 23: Syria vs India, Al Bayt Stadium, 17:00 IST