Top four second-placed teams progressed to the main event…
The Indian players were seen fist-pumping and hugging each other after Dheeraj Singh made two incredible saves in the tie-breaker against Kyrgyzstan to ensure the second spot in Group E in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers last Saturday. However, their celebrations were short-lived as they soon found out that their win against Oman won’t be counted while determining the rankings of the second-placed teams from all groups.
Why did India fail to qualify for AFC U-23 Asian Cup?
India finished with four points from three games and occupied the second spot in Group E behind leaders UAE. They won 2-1 against Oman in their campaign opener which opened a window of hope to qualify for the main event. And after squeezing themselves into second place ahead of Kyrgyzstan, there was an air of optimisim, at least for a few minutes.
However, a sense of despair descended on the team as they came so near to make history and yet remained so far. Amongst the 11 groups participating in the Asian Under-23 qualifiers, three clusters had only three participating nations while one of the groups had only two contestants. Hence, from the remaining seven groups, the result against the bottom-placed team weren’t counted when determining the best second-placed team amongst all groups.
So that meant India’s result against Oman (who finished fourth in India’s group) was not considered. This implied that India just had one point from the two matches (for the second-placed team ranking).
Where did India finish amongst second-placed teams?
India finished on the ninth spot amongst the second-placed ranked teams. Only the top four teams qualified for the Asian Cup Under-23 main event.
Which teams qualified for AFC U-23 Asian Cup as the best second-placed teams?
Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan qualified as the best-four second-placed teams. Let us take a look at the table of the second-placed teams.
|2||D||Saudi Arabia (Q)||2||1||0||1||4||2||+2||3|