AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022: Asia's premier women's football tournament begins tomorrow
The most successful nation of the premier regional tournament, China PR will face Chinese Taipei in the opening fixture on January 20.
When the first match between China PR and Chinese Taipei kicks off on Thursday at 3.30 pm, it will mark the start of a thrilling campaign in the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 where Asia's leading women's national teams go head-to-head for the coveted trophy.
Played across three venues at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, the Mumbai Football Arena and Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, the showpiece will celebrate women's football across the Continent and provide a platform for the current and future stars to shine.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa sent his best wishes to all participating teams, highlighting the importance of the tournament in the development of the sport.
He said, "The AFC Women's Asian Cup is a competition that is rich in history and continues to be the catalyst for the development of women's football in Asia."
"As outlined in our Mission, the AFC strives to ensure that our Asian teams succeed on the world stage and already we are seeing our women footballers impress and enjoy success with their national teams and in club football around the world," he added.
"I must thank all the participating teams, our stakeholders and the Local Organising Committee for sharing the AFC's ambitions to organise the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 with the health and safety of everyone as our highest priority," quipped the AFC President.
"The attention of the footballing world shifts to India tomorrow, and I wish all teams the very best in the tournament. Your performances on the pitch will be watched by millions worldwide including young girls who will aspire to follow in your footsteps," said the AFC President.
Eight-time champions China PR will begin proceedings against Chinese Taipei in Group A at the Mumbai Football Arena with both teams aiming for three points that will set them on course to challenge for one of the five tickets to the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2023 that will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
Four hours later, host nation and two-time runner-up, India will test their mettle against newcomers the Islamic Republic of Iran, who made history by qualifying to the finals for the first time ever, at the D.Y. Patil Stadium at 7.30 pm.
Fans will enjoy four thrilling matches on day two when reigning champions Japan, led by head coach Futoshi Ikeda, begin their title defence against Myanmar at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune at 1.30 pm.
At the same venue, Korea Republic, whose best result in the tournament was third in 2003, take on their Vietnamese opponents at 7.30 pm.
Over at the Mumbai Football Arena, the 2010 champions and runners-up in the last two editions Australia face Indonesia, who are making their first appearance in the tournament since 1986, at 5.30 pm.
Thailand, only one of five countries to win more than 30 AFC Women's Asian Cup matches, will go up against the Philippines, who were one victory away from securing qualification to the FIFA Women's World Cup in the last edition.
The AFC Women's Asian Cup will boast a stellar field of international icons like Sam Kerr of Australia, who recently finished second in the FIFA Best Awards, Saki Kumagai of Japan, and Ji So-yun of Korea Republic while emerging talents are expected to light up the showpiece.
With thrilling matches set to entertain global television audiences, the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 is poised for another memorable and exciting campaign that will provide a positive and lasting impact on women's football in Asia.