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India’s WC and Asia Cup qualifiers scheduled in 2021

India is set to play FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asia Cup qualifiers in March and June 2021. The Asian Football Confederation’s Competition Committee did not reveal the exact dates of the matches. According to FIFA’s calendar for 2021, the first international window is from 22-30 March, while the second is from 31 May to 15 June (for AFC).

The four remaining matchdays in the second round, which were originally scheduled to be played between March and April this year, were initially postponed to October-November due to the pandemic.

These games were set to take place in March and April 2020, but the pandemic postponed it to the breaks during October and November. However, the situation hadn’t significantly improved by the end of 2020, so all games were moved to 2021.

In a virtual online meeting, the AFC Competitions Committee has now decided to host matchdays seven and eight before March 2021, with matchdays nine and ten to be held before 15 June 2021. Despite being out of contention in FIFA World Cup berth 2022, the Indian team has to play three games in the second round of qualifiers. The games against Qatar and Afghanistan are set to take place in India, while the away game is against Bangladesh.

India is still in contention for a spot in the 2023 Asian Cup. The Indian football team currently sits fourth in Group E with three points from after five games. Qatar tops the table with 13 points while Oman sits second with 12 points. Eight group winners and four best runners-up will progress to the next round.

India must win the remaining three games to have any chance of finishing runners-up in the group stage to have a chance of qualifying for the main event. A third-place finish in the group will guarantee India a direct berth in the third round of the qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup.

The third and final round of the Asian leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will begin in September 2021 and will be completed by March 2022, with the inter-continental playoff scheduled for May-June 2022. The 2022 FIFA World Cup begins in Qatar on November 21.

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