Asian Cup 2023: India qualify for Finals with one match left as Palestine oust Philippines

Overall, Indian football team have qualified for the continental showpiece for the fifth time – 1964, 1984, 2011, 2019 and now in 2023. 

Asian Cup 2023: India qualify for Finals with one match left as Palestine oust Philippines

Indian men’s football team on Tuesday (June 14) qualified for the Asian Cup Finals after Palestine defeated Philippines in a group B match in Ulaanbaatar. The result meant that the Palestinians directly qualified for the 24-team finals finishing group toppers, while second placed Philippines, with four points, were eliminated despite finishing second. Only the winners of the six qualifying groups are sure to advance to the tournament proper, where they will be joined by the five best second-placed teams in respective groups.

India, who are second behind Hong Kong (six points) on goal difference, have qualified ahead of their final round group D clash. This is for the first time India have qualified for the Asian Cup in two successive editions, having made the group league exit in the 2019 edition.

Overall, India have qualified for the continental showpiece for the fifth time – 1964, 1984, 2011, 2019 and now in 2023. Captain Sunil Chhetri had stressed that qualifying for the Asian Cup Finals should be the bare minimum for India if they are to consistently compete with the best in Asia and improve steadily.

“We already spoke about it, the bare minimum target for us to qualify for the Asia Cup so that we can go and rub our shoulders with the best in Asia. I think I'm not trying to be too harsh on ourselves, but we need to be playing Asia Cup every edition so that we can assess how much we're improving and also get an opportunity to play the best of Asian teams.” Chettri told Star Sports after starring in India’s win over Afghanistan.

China was scheduled to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2023 across 10 cities from June 16 to July 16 but the country gave up the hosting rights due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The AFC said it will announce the new hosts in the coming months.

(with PTI inputs)

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