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India withdraws from AFC Women’s Asian Cup football competition

Of the 23 players in the squad, two players had to isolate themselves as they tested positive on the eve of India’s opening match in the competition on January 20.

SNS | New Delhi |

As India failed to name their team for the match against Chinese Taipei because of injuries and Covid positive tests it had to withdraw from the ongoing AFC Women’s Asian Cup football competition on Sunday.

The rules specify that a team should be able to put up a bare minimum of 13 players to compete in a match. The Indians had only 11 players fit and available to play Sunday’s match against Chinese Taipei at the DY Patil Stadium here.

All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel described India’s inability to put up the minimum required players for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Group A match against Chinese Taipei in Navi Mumbai due to Covid-19 cases and injuries as an unfortunate situation and sought support for the players.

“We are as disappointed as probably the entire nation would be right now with this unwarranted situation. However, the players’ health and well-being are of paramount importance to us, and it cannot be compromised under any circumstances. I wish all the infected players and team officials a swift and full recovery. They will be well supported by the AIFF and AFC,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Of the 23 players in the squad, two players had to isolate themselves as they tested positive on the eve of India’s opening match in the competition on January 20.

Sources said on Saturday, the hosts had 13 players that were not down with Covid-19 but two of them were injured. The two injured players could not recover in time and thus a team could not be named for the match against the Chinese Taipei.

“The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has confirmed that the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 match between Chinese Taipei and India at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai could not be played today,” the AFC said in a statement on Sunday.

“Following several positive cases of Covid-19, India failed to name the required minimum of 13 players for the Group A match against Chinese Taipei,” said the statement.

“In accordance with Article 4.1 of the ‘Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic’ (Special Rules), India was therefore unable to participate in the match and the full provisions of Article 4.1 will apply,” the statement said.

Article 4.1 of the ‘Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions during Covid-19 pandemic’ states, “If a Participating Team/Participating Club has less than thirteen (13) Participating Players (including one (1) goalkeeper) available for a Match for any reason (whether or not relating to Covid-19), the relevant Participating Team/Participating Club shall not be able to participate in the Match. Such Participating Team/Participating Club shall be held responsible for the Match not taking place and shall be considered to have withdrawn from the relevant Competition. The relevant Participating Team/Participating Club and its affiliated Member Association shall be subject to the provisions of the relevant Competition regulations regarding the consequences of withdrawal, as applicable.”

As per this rule, the Indian team is considered to have withdrawn from the competition. Though the said Article 4 has provisions of rescheduling the match, the same could not be done in the case of AFC Asian Cup India 2022 because it is a competition and the schedule is pre-decided.

The result of India’s previous match against Iran is also considered null and void and Iran can thus now qualify for the playoffs to decide the two best third-placed teams to make it to the quarter-finals.

(With inputs from IANS)