The India U-23 team put up a creditable show in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers. Despite playing against teams ranked higher, India beat Oman 2-1 and could have earned a point against UAE but for a penalty which allowed The Whites to pick up the three points.
In their final group game against Kyrgyzstan U-23, they were held to a 0-0 draw. But India did finish second in the group after Dheeraj Singh made two saves in the ensuing penalty shootout for the second spot. After all matches of Group E, the table looks like this.
Can India qualify for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup?
Although India are second placed in the group with four points, it is very tough, almost impossible, for them to qualify for the main event. Let us find out why.
Only group winners are assured of a spot in the main event along with four best second-placed teams. There are 11 groups in the qualifiers and the second-placed teams in 10 of those groups will be considered for the remaining four spots. The top four teams out of the 10 sides will progress to the main event. This is because one of the 11 groups, Group G, has only two teams – Australia and Indonesia.
And India is among the 10 second-placed teams. But there is a small catch. Since there are a few groups with only three teams, in groups of four teams, the results against the fourth-placed team is not considered for this ranking. But in groups where there are three teams, all results will be counted.
So that means India’s results against Oman (who finished fourth in India’s group) will not be considered while preparing this table. This implies that India just have one point from the two matches (for the second-placed team ranking).
Let us take a look at the ranking of second-placed teams in a table to have further clarity on India’s chances of progression.
This shows that India are on the ninth spot amongst the best-second-ranked teams and therefore have marginal chances of qualification. However, since Iran, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Syria, and Saudi Arabia still have a match in hand, the table is not final.
Anyhow, the chances of India progressing as one of the best four second-placed team is next to nil.