India will host the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022
India will host the AFC Women's Asian Cup in 2022 Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: India has welcomed the hosting of the Women’s AFC Asian Cup 2022 that is most likely to be staged late in the year.

“The tournament will galvanise the aspiring women players and bring in a holistic social revolution as far as women’s football in the country is concerned,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) President, Praful Patel, told media.

The decision was taken at the AFC Women’s Football Committee meeting that was held on Thursday. In February, the AFC Women’s Football Committee had recommended India as hosts.

Late on Thursday, in a letter addressed to the AIFF, Dato Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, wrote: “The committee awarded the hosting rights of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 Finals to the All India Football Federation.”

The competition is slated to start in December and is likely to end after more than two weeks of action in January. For the time being, Ahmedabad and Navi Mumbai are the front-runners to host the marquee event.

As hosts, India will get an automatic qualification to the tournament. Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan were the other two countries in the running to host the event.

“The tournament will play a huge role in further popularising women’s football in India,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das, said.

“The Women’s Asian Cup 2022 comes on the back of the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup 2020, and will help us sustain and build on the momentum gained.”

This will be the second time that India will be hosting the premier continental competition for women after staging it in Kozhikode way back in 1980.

India has been runners-up on two occasions (1980 and 1983) in this competition, while winning bronze in 1981. The last time that India qualified for this tournament was in 2003.

The AFC committee has also decided to expand the Asian Cup from eight teams to 12. The teams will be divided in three groups of four that will see a minimum of 25 matches before the best eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals.

For the first time, the Asian Cup will serve as the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, where Japan will go in as the defending champions.

It has been a good time for Indian football especially at the grass roots levels after the country of 1.3 billion successfully hosted the Men’s Under-17 World Cup in 2017 and is also set to host the U17 Women’s World Cup in February 2021.