Kolkata: Indian football team received some good news on the morning of their final qualifying game against Hong Kong as both teams have now qualified from their Group D for the Asian Cup finals next year. This is the first time the Indian team has qualified for the continental showpiece twice in a row, the last time being in the UAE in 2019.
The line-up was sorted once Palestine thrashed the Philippines 4-0 in Ulaanbaatar on Tuesday to book their spot at the finals, a result which also sealed qualification for six other sides at the continental championship. ‘‘Here we come,’’ the All India Football Federation tweeted from @IndianFootball.
Tuesday’s result means the second-placed team in Group B cannot amass more than four points, which had an impact on the qualification picture in other groups.
Group C leaders Uzbekistan and second-placed Thailand are both on six points and assured of places ahead of their meeting in Namangan.
Hong Kong and India are also guaranteed spots - with the former’s qualification guaranteeing the former British colony appear at the finals for the first time since the 1968 edition in Iran. Central Asian duo Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will also progress from Group F.
In the quest for the remaining spots, Jordan lead the standings in Group A ahead of Indonesia and Kuwait while Bahrain top Group E from Malaysia and Turkmenistan.
The qualifiers will join 13 nations who have already sealed their spots including defending champions Qatar, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Australia. China are also set to take part.
The Asian Football Confederation has asked for bids to replace China as hosts with a decision set to be taken later in the year.