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World Cup Qualifiers 2022: How can India finish in third place?

World Cup Qualifiers 2022: How can India finish in third place?

The Indian national team will resume their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign against Qatar on June 3, followed by Bangladesh on June 7 and finally Afghanistan in their last qualifying game on June 15.

India started their journey in the qualifiers with a narrow 2-1 defeat at the hands of Oman at home followed by a historic goalless draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha. In their third and fourth matches, the Blue Tigers managed 1-1 draws against Bangladesh and Afghanistan respectively but again suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against Oman away from home in their fifth match. 

While India does not stand a chance of qualifying for the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, they still have a lot to play for in the remaining three fixtures. If India can finish at least in the third position then they will qualify directly for the third round of the Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers.

This is how the table looks like at the moment. 

PositionTeamPlayedWonDrawnLostGoals ScoredGoals AgainstGDPoints
4India 503235-23

What happens when two teams finish on the same points? 

If two teams finish with the same number of points at the league stage then the following criteria will be factored in while deciding the rankings. 

  1. Overall goal difference
  2. Overall goals scored
  3. The goals scored away from home count double between the teams concerned (if the tie is only between two teams);

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above criteria, their rankings shall be determined as follows:

         5. Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned.

         6. Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.

         7. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned.

         8. Fair play points system in which the number of yellow and red cards in all group matches is considered according to the following deductions:

– first yellow card: minus 1 point
– second yellow card/indirect red card: minus 3 points
– direct red card: minus 4 points
– yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points

         9. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee. 

In the event of a tournament being played in one of the countries of the participating member associations (in this case Qatar) or on neutral territory, if two or more teams are equal after the completion of the group stage in accordance with the above criteria 1-7 (barring number 3), the final rankings will be determined by rules 8 and 9. 

How can India finish in third place?

With Qatar and Oman locked in a battle for the top two spots, the rest of the three teams in Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh are fighting for third place which will ensure a direct spot in the third round of the Asian Cup Qualification 2023. 

The easiest way for India to finish in third-place is to win all their games. Winning all their matches will take India to 12 points and since they will beat both Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the process, the third place will be sealed for the Blue Tigers. 

If India repeat their result against Qatar and win the remaining two matches they will finish on 10 points. In that case, even if Afghanistan win their two games against Bangladesh and Oman, they have high chances of finishing fourth as India have a better goal difference right now. However, if India lose against Qatar and win the last two games, then the Afghans must drop points against either Bangaladesh or Oman. Bangladesh do not have any chance to come third in this case. 

If India draw their first two matches then they must win against Afghanistan. Anoush Dastgir’s men must also drop points in one of their first two matches. Whereas, if Bangladesh win their two games, they will finish level on points with India and then goal difference will come into play. India, right now, as a vastly superior goal difference.

If India lose both against Qatar and Bangladesh and beat Afghanistan, then The Lions of Khorasan must draw against Bangladesh and lose/draw against Oman. Bangladesh, must also lose/draw against Oman. 

India cannot afford to lose against Afghanistan as if they do so, things will get very complicated for Sunil Chhetri and co. Then even if they win their first two games, they have to hope that the Afghans do not pick up more than two points from their first two games. If India get a draw against Afghanistan then they will have leverage of three points.

What happens if India finish fourth? 

If India finish fourth then also they can qualify for the Asian Cup qualifying third round if they finish amongst the four best fourth-placed teams across all groups. The remaining four fourth-placed teams will advance to the Asian Cup qualifying play-off round.