Qualification explainer: What India need to do to make the cut to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup?

India's bid to qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup kicks off against Cambodia in a Group D encounter on Wednesday. Having appeared in the 2019 edition, India will attempt to qualify for back-to-back Asian Cups for the first time ever.

In their way stand Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Afghanistan in Group D. Here is how India can make it to the continental showpiece.

Six group winners and five best second-placed teams will join Australia, China, Iran, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam to make it 24 teams in the final tournament.

The winners of this Group D will directly qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023. On the other hand, the top five out of the six groups’ runners-up of this third-round qualification will get the tickets for the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

If India emerges as group winners, then they will directly qualify for the main event. On finishing second, they can still qualify but have to be amongst the five-best second-placed teams out of six.

If they finish third or fourth, then they will be knocked out.

If teams are tied on points, tiebreakers are applied in the following order

  1. Points in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  2. Goal difference in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  3. Goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  4. Away goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams;
  5. If more than two teams are tied, and after applying criteria 1 to 4, a subset of teams is still tied, criteria 1 to 4 are reapplied exclusively to this subset of teams;
  6. Goal difference in all group matches;
  7. Goals scored in all group matches;
  8. Penalty shoot-out if only two teams are tied and they met in the last round of the group;
  9. Disciplinary points (yellow card = 1-point, red card as a result of two yellow cards = 3 points, direct red card = 3 points, yellow card followed by direct red card = 4 points);
  10. Drawing of lots.

The 1964 AFC Asian Cup runners-up India have never experienced two consecutive Asian Cup tournaments. Apart from their tournament debut in 1964, the Blue Tigers experienced this continental tournament in 1984, 2011 and 2019 editions respectively.

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