The 20th edition of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup kicks off on the 20th of January in India, and with 12 teams featuring across 30 games in 18 days in three stadiums, we’re in for a veritable feast of football. Here’s what we can expect:
What’s the format like?
The AFC has 47 member nations eligible to participate (with Northern Mariana Islands the latest inductee in 2020), but only 28 teams took part in the qualification tournament, with four teams (hosts India, and the top 3 teams of the previous tournament – Japan, Australia and China) already having qualified, and eight group winners progressing to the finals.
This is the first time the finals will have twelve teams, instead of the usual eight – Iran are making their debut at these finals. There are three groups of four, with the top two and two best third-placed teams progressing to the quarterfinals. The four teams that make the semifinals also automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
Easy enough right? Well, it gets complicated from here. Since Australia are hosts of the 2023 World Cup, their progression in the tournament plays an important role in deciding who else qualifies. There are 6 direct qualification and two inter-continental playoff spots for AFC member nations.