The new year will have many iconic tournaments on its roster.
The time has already arrived to look forward to what we have in show for 2022. Indian football came to a standstill two years ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has grown miles and bound since then. Many iconic incidents have taken place in the sport since then and one can hope that 2022 will not be any different. Apart from the Indian Super League, I-League, Indian Women’s League, the local leagues and the international friendlies, here are five important events to keep an eye on in the upcoming calendar year.
5. Asian Games 2022
India failed to participate in football at the Asian Games in 2018 as their rank was 14. According to the Indian Olympique Association (IOA), only national teams ranked between 1-8 at the continental level were eligible to feature. However, India is currently ranked seventh in Asia and will be looking forward to a significant Asian Games campaign.
The competition mainly comprises U-23 players with three senior players (above 23) allowed to feature along with them. Even the women’s team could participate this time. They too weren’t allowed to participate in the previous edition.
The Asian Games 2022 will be held between September 10-25 in Hangzhou City in China.
4. AFC Men’s Asian Cup Qualifiers
The AFC Asian Cup qualifiers are to be held in the month of June (8th, 11th and 14th). After a successful SAFF Cup campaign, India will now be looking to make the most at the Qualifiers.
The Blue Tigers participated in the previous edition of the AFC Asian Cup, where they clinched one win. Although they could not clear the group stages, India looked to be in bright form, something they would want to replicate in the Asian Cup qualifiers in 2022.
3. Gokulam Kerala’s AFC Cup Campaign
After winning the I-League last season, Gokulam Kerala FC will now be heading towards making their presence felt at the continental level. The Malabarians have earned themselves a spot in the AFC Cup.
Gokulam Kerala have made a good start to their campaign in the ongoing I-League season as well. They defeated Churchill Brothers on the December 26, courtesy of a spot-kick finish from captain Sharif Mukhamad in the first half.
In 2021, they made it to AFC Women’s Club Championship and ended their campaign with three points (a win in the last group stage fixture against FC Bunyodkar). This time, the onus will be on their male counterparts who will be vying to perform well in Asia.
2. Mumbai City FC’s AFC Champions League Campaign
Mumbai City FC bagged both the ISL Trophy and the League Winners’ Shield in the 2020-21 season. The latter earned them a chance to become the second team to feature in the AFC Champions League after FC Goa.
The Gaurs bagged three points to their name in the AFC Champions League in the previous edition. An almost indomitable powerhouse, Mumbai City are expected to perform even better than FC Goa as the Islanders are already proving their worth in the Indian Super League. Mumbai will be looking forward to undergo a positive campaign in the AFC Champions League in 2022.
1. AFC Women’s Asian Cup & FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India
The AFC Women’s Asian Cup is set to begin from January 20. Thomas Dennerby’s side are all set to give their best in the tournament. The Indian team recently played three friendlies against Brazil, Chile and Venezuela. Although they failed to earn themselves a victory, the team has gathered immense experience from this tour. The impact of this experience will be witnessed once the national team take the stage. The Indian team will play their group stage fixtures against Iran (20th), Chinese Taipei (23rd) and China PR (26th).
The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is also scheduled to be held in India in 2022. The Indian colts will be making their debut in a FIFA event and are expected to give their best. The tournament will begin on October 11 and the final will be played on October 30, 2022.