New Delhi: India men’s football team on Thursday clubbed alongside China, Bangladesh and Myanmar in ‘group A’ for the 9th Asian Games 2023, that is schedule to take place at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Center from September 23 to October 8. Indian women’s football was placed in ‘group B’ alongside Chinese Taipei and Thailand.
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Indian men & women’s team finally get nod from sport ministry
After months of speculation, India’s men’s and women’s football teams have been confirmed to participate in the 2023 Asian Games. The green light came after India’s Ministry of Youth and Sports decided to ease its stance on the criteria that determine which national sports federations are allowed to send teams to matches wearing Indian clothes.
Criteria for participation
The regulation, previously sent by the ministry to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and other national sports federations, states that “only the sports teams that have finished in the eighth place among the participating teams can participate in the team event.” For participation in the Asian Games, the year should be considered. Indian men’s football team is currently ranked 18th in Asia, just short of the continent’s top eight last year. The same applies to the women’s team, who are currently ranked 11th in the AFC Nations rankings.
Sport ministry words
India’s Minister of Sports Anurag Thakur said: “The Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Government of India has decided to relax the rules to facilitate the participation of both teams who did not qualify under the existing criteria.”
“In light of recent performance, the ministry has decided to allow easing,” he added.
AIFF president stance
The IOA had refused to ban Indian football teams from participating in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta based on the same ranking criteria. All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Kalyan Chaubey said: “It is indeed an important day for Indian football and a testament to our determination to develop the sport in India.”
“Football in India has experienced an unprecedented upward trend in recent times and we believe this momentum will continue to boost the morale of the players at all future events,” he added.
Indian men’s football team performance in Asia Games
India’s men’s football team won gold at the 1951 New Delhi and his 1962 Jakarta Asian Games, and a bronze at the 1970 Bangkok. However, India’s performance in the continental competition has since declined. If all goes well, Hangzhou 2023 will be the 16th Asian Games appearance for the Indian men’s team, who have won the SAFF Championship and Intercontinental Cup in recent months.
Indian women’s football team performance in Asia Games
The Indian women’s team has only made two appearances at the Asian Games, finishing eighth in Bangkok in 1998 and ninth in Incheon in 2014. Women’s football made its debut at the 1990 Asian Games, and men’s football has been part of the Continental Games since the inaugural games in 1951.