India get mixed draw for 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Igor Stimac’s Blue Tigers will compete against Bangladesh, Oman, Afghanistan and the reigning Asian champions, Qatar in Group E of the second round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The preliminary draw for the events took place at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

Bangladesh are the lowest-ranked of all the teams in the group, sitting at 183rd on the rankings. Afghanistan are next on 149th, followed by India who are currently ranked 101. Hosts for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar are the highest-ranked outfit at 55th, with Oman the next best on 86th in the latest FIFA rankings.

The Blue Tigers begin their campaign with a home tie against Oman on September 5, following it up with a visit to the home of the Asian Champions Qatar, five days later. Matches against Bangladesh and Afghanistan follow in October and November, respectively, with an away tie against Oman on November 19 already shaping to be a critical tie. The Blue Tigers end their campaign with matches against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on March 26, June 4 and June 9, respectively.

The winners from the eight groups, along with the best-placed four runners-up will advance to the final round of qualifying for the World Cup, while also grabbing a direct entry into the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The top four teams from the subsequent round will then grab an automatic ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the fifth team going through an intercontinental playoff.

Ever since he took over, the Croat has been pointing to the Qualifiers as his primary target, thereby using the King’s Cup and the Hero Intercontinental Cup as the apparatus required to test out his thesis on the condition and quality of his squad. The 51-year-old has already announced that he and his players will begin their preparations for the Qualifiers from August 18.

The full schedule of India's matches:

September 5: India vs Oman

September 10: Qatar vs India

October 15: India vs Bangladesh

November 14: Afghanistan vs India

November 19: Oman vs India

March 26: India vs Qatar

June 4: Bangladesh vs India

June 9: India vs Afghanistan

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