India have been drawn alongside Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Group E of the AFC's World Cup 2022 qualification. The matches, that begin on September 5, will also serve as dual qualification for the AFC Asian Cup in China in 2023.
India will play their first match at home against Oman on September 5. They travel to Qatar next for possibly their most difficult fixture on September 10, with their opponents the reigning Asian Cup champions. India next face Bangladesh at home on October 15, before travelling to Afghanistan on November 14 and Oman on November 19. India's sixth match, against Qatar at home on March 26, will be their first match of 2020. They will round off these qualifiers with matches against Bangladesh away on June 4, and against Afghanistan at home on June 9.
In all, 40 teams have been divided into eight groups of five, with the group winners and the four best runners-up all going through to the next round of World Cup qualification, and also booking their berth in the 2023 Asian Cup. The teams that finish in third place will also reach the Asian Cup qualifying third round, where they will be joined by the four best fourth-placed teams. The remaining teams will all be placed in the AFC Asian Cup qualifying play-off round.
India are the third-highest ranked team in their group, at 101.
Qatar, the World Cup hosts, are the highest ranked team in their group at 67. Qatar need not have entered qualification, but have done that to confirm their place in the 2023 Asian Cup. In fact, they requested their position in the draw to be swapped with Bangladesh, as preparation for the Copa America 2020, where they are scheduled to participate as an invited team.
Oman are 86th, and were in India's group during the last round of qualification too. Afghanistan are 149th, while Bangladesh are 183rd.
Group A: China, Syria, Phillippines, Maldives, Guam
Group B: Australia, Jordan, Chinese Taipei, 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, DPR Korea, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka
Here's how the draw unfolded.
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