Indian men’s and women’s football teams have been cleared to participate in the 19th edition of the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September after the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports gave the green light to the participation of team in the biggest sporting event in Asia. 

The football event at the Asian Games only allows U-23 teams in both men’s and women’s categories with each team allowed to include a maximum of three players above the age limit. The 2023 edition which was originally scheduled to be held in 2022 has relaxed the age limit to U-24 for the upcoming edition. 

The draw for both categories was made on Thursday with the men’s team being placed alongside hosts China, Bangladesh and Myanmar while the women’s team being grouped with Chinese Taipei and Thailand. 

Men’s group: China, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar

Women’s group: Chinese Taipei, Thailand and India

The women’s side have their work cut out as they are the lowest-ranked team (60) in the group with Thailand (44) and Chinese Taipei (37)

The men are the second-highest ranked team in the group (99) behind China (80) and ahead of Myanmar (160) and Bangladesh (189).

The women’s team which is ranked 11th in Asia will be taking part in the Asian Games for just the third occasion and for the first time since 2014. Their only previous appearance in the event was in 1998. 

The men’s team have rich history in the Asian Games having won the gold medal twice in 1950 and 1962. The Blue Tigers also won bronze in 1970 and have been semi-finalists in 1958 and quarter-finalists in 1982. 

The Asian Games will be held from September 23 to October 8.