Sat, 21 May 2022

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 17 (ANI): The football fever has begun as India is all set to host the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 from January 20, 2022.

The tournament, which will be held in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Pune, will witness 12 teams competing for the trophy. The AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 will also be the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Praful Patel, AIFF President on Monday said that the tournament will help in building women's football in India.

"All the preparations for the tournament are in place. We are in complete readiness to host the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022. This is a very special tournament because women's football is gaining a lot of ground in Asia, and particularly in India. I can see a lot of boys and girls, in urban cities and in Tier 1 and 2 cities, who are looking at football as their most preferred sport and are also looking at football as a career option. The AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 will help in building women's football in India," said Patel during a virtual press conference.

When asked about the safety measures for the spread of Covid-19, Patel said" "We will follow the strictest of protocols and have full support from the Government of Maharashtra in hosting the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022. We have ensured that the teams don't travel much and therefore the tournament is being held in three cities, which are close by. My sincere thanks to the government of Maharashtra for providing venues and financial support.""The government of India has also given us exemplary support. We are very proud and happy that India has been chosen as the hosts for this tournament and for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022 in October," he added.

Aaditya Thackeray, Cabinet Minister, Government of Maharashtra, and President Mumbai District Football Association, who was also in attendance during the virtual press conference, said: "For Maharashtra as well as for Indian football, this tournament is a huge feat. We had the FIFA U-17 Men's World Cup five years ago and now we have the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022, followed by the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup India 2022.""This is a very crucial moment for our coaches and sportspersons across the country. The fact that the teams are coming to our country during a pandemic to play the game is in itself a huge inspiration for us. Sport is something that can bridge barriers and take us ahead during the tough times that we are all facing globally," he added.

Thackeray added that India is now seen as a destination for international football tournaments. "When we make a social investment like bringing a tournament to our state and country, it inspires many young boys and girls to take up a particular sport. India is now heard to be a part of the footballing scene internationally. Until a few years ago, India was not seen as a destination for international football tournaments, however, today we are seen as a country that can host a football tournament successfully and also a safe tournament during the Covid-19 pandemic."The 12 teams at the 20th edition of the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 have been divided into three groups. Group A includes India, China PR, Chinese Taipei, and IR Iran, while Group B includes Australia, Thailand, Philippines, and Indonesia. Meanwhile, Japan, Korea Republic, Vietnam, and Myanmar have been slotted in Group C. (ANI)

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