The tournament kicks off on January 20.

Asia’s biggest festival of women’s football will unfold its 20th edition come January 20 in the world’s largest democracy, India. The AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 will be a closed-doors affair across three venues in Maharashtra, with the opener being played in the City of Dreams. The 20th edition will a see landmark change, as the number of participating teams have been increased from eight to twelve.

India will host the prestigious championship for only the second time in its history after hosting it in 1979. The tournament will act as a bridge for the best teams in Asia to gain direct qualification to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

On that note, we take a look at the top five favourites to win the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup:

5. Vietnam

Vitenam women's team
Vietnam are placed in Group C at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 (Courtesy: VOV)

The Golden Star girls are currently one of Asia’s best footballing nations and rank 32nd in the latest FIFA rankings. Vietnam finished at the peak of Group B and maintained a 100% record to show for their efforts. They scored 23 goals and conceded nil during the qualifiers against Tajikistan and the Maldives.

Vietnam are in Group C alongside defending champions Japan, Myanmar and South Korea. They’ll want to build on their rampant form from the qualifiers in order to go the distance this year.

4. South Korea

South Korea women's team
The Taegeuk are ranked 18th in the FIFA rankings (Courtesy: Worldfootball.net)

South Korea will want to go a step beyond their fifth-place finish in the last edition of the tournament. They come into the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 edition after bossing Group E against Uzbekistan and Mongolia.

In order to succeed on Indian soil, Korea Republic will have to bring their A-game to the table, as they’re grouped alongside title favourites Japan and Vietnam in Group C. South Korea are the most high-profile Asian nation, who’ve never won the continental title and will be keen to change it this time around.

3. China PR

China PR Women's Team
China PR have won the tournament a record eight times (Courtesy: AFC)

Currently ranked 19th in the FIFA women’s rankings, China are the most successful nation in the history of the tournament. They have won the title for a record eight times and will want to add a ninth continental title to their name.

They availed their direct qualification to the 2022 edition as they finished third in 2018. The Steel Roses find themselves alongside host nation India, three-time champions Chinese Taipei and debutants Iran in Group A. China will have to go an extra mile this time if they want to pull off yet another masterclass.

2. Australia

AFC Women's Asian Cup
Australia have lost successive AFC Women’s Asian Cup finals (Courtesy: Sports Illustrated)

With the fire of revenge burning in their souls ever since the defeat to Japan in the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup final, Australia will look to continue from where they left in 2018. They currently sit in the 11th spot in the FIFA women’s rankings and are the second-best Asian side across the globe.

The side from Down Under have won the title just once in seven and will be keen to add one more to their tally. Australia are a part of Group B alongside Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand. The Aussies will be looking forward to settling past records in order to compensate for their heartbreak in 2018.

1. Japan

Japan women's team
Japan are the two-time running defending champions (Courtesy: Japan Times)

The strongest side in Asia, Japan are not only the title favourites but also the defending champions. They have been the best side of the tournament for the last two editions. The Nadeshiko will be looking to make it a hat-trick of titles when they take the field.

Japan are in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside South Korea, Vietnam and Myanmar. It’s not going to be an easy title defence, but this is where their champions mentality will come into play.

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