The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 Local Organising Committee (LOC) confirmed Mumbai and Pune as the host cities for the Women’s Asia Cup on Tuesday. Mumbai Football Arena - Andheri Sports Complex, the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai and Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune will serve as the venues.

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 is scheduled to be held from January 20 to February 6. The D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai with an estimated capacity of 37,900 will be one of the three stadiums to host the matches.

The decision was taken after considering the existing challenges pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and as part of efforts to minimise travel time for teams and officials between venues. Special efforts will also be in place to ensure the best suitable environment to implement the bio-bubble in the interest of all stakeholders.

Regarding the change in venue, Mr. Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and Chairman of the LOC, said, “As the situation evolved, we had to adapt and the need was to create a bio-secure bubble. Hence, we chose Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune, venues in close geographical proximity with stadiums that have previously hosted major football competitions. 

“I am happy that the Maharashtra government is paying special attention to the infrastructure and preparations for the tournament, and is dedicated to make the AFC Women’s Asian Cup a grand success,” Mr Patel added.

Mr Patel also extended his gratitude to the governments of Odisha and Gujarat, two states that were slated to host the tournament previously.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the governments of Odisha and Gujarat, who were both enthusiastic about hosting this tournament. While we continue to adapt, we can assure that thorough preparations will be made to ensure we stage a truly spectacular and safe AFC Women’s Asian Cup.”

Hosts India along with defending champions Japan, Australia and China PR have already booked their berths in the Finals and the race to join the quartet will begin from September. A total of 28 teams across eight groups will vie for the remaining eight places in the newly-expanded and biggest edition of the continental women’s tournament yet.

Group A has three-time champions Chinese Taipei, Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Laos while Group B features Vietnam, Tajikistan, Maldives and Afghanistan.

Three-time title holders DPR Korea are in Group C alongside Singapore, Iraq and Indonesia while Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, Guam, and Lebanon comprise Group D.

2003 runners-up Korea Republic, Uzbekistan and Mongolia are placed in Group E and Philippines, Hong Kong, and Nepal have been drawn together in Group F.

Jordan are eying a second consecutive Finals appearance and are placed in Group G alongside Iran and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Thailand, Palestine and Malaysia will square off for a solitary spot from Group H.

Featured photo : Money Sharma / AFP