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Covid-19 outbreak knocks India out of Asian Cup

New Delhi, January 23

Disaster struck the Indian women’s team when it was forced to forfeit the AFC Women’s Asian Cup football league match against Chinese Taipei due to an outbreak of Covid cases in the team in Navi Mumbai. With this development, the Indian team is out of the tournament. The results of the RT-PCR tests conducted on the players on January 21 were received today morning.

The medical team waits along the ground.

Twelve Indian players tested positive for Covid and the match had to be called off as they could not put up the mandated number of 13 players, including one goalkeeper, as per the Asian Football Confederation guidelines. Apart from 12 players testing positive, two players were injured.

AFC tournament Rule 4.1 stipulates: “If a Participating Team/Participating Club has less than thirteen (13) Participating Players (including one 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Team/Participating Club shall be held responsible for the Match not taking place and shall be considered to have withdrawn from the relevant Competition.”

All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel said that the team was heartbroken. “We are as disappointed as probably the entire nation would be right now with this unwarranted situation,” Patel said in a statement. “The team is heartbroken, and I request all to respect their feelings and sentiments. I am proud of the great promise the team showed in their first match, and am confident that they will prove their mettle in the near future.”

There was a lot of confusion regarding the status of the match, even as the Chinese Taipei team was left to do warm-up routines while the Indian team sat in their hotel.

Tournament rules dictated that all Covid-related or other media statements have to come through the AFC channel. AIFF was ready to announce the forfeiture much in advance but AFC officials announced the forfeiture only minutes before the scheduled start.

India’s third and final fixture was against China on Wednesday while the knockout stage starts on January 30. India have lost the chance of making it to the 2023 FIFA World Cup due to today’s developments. All the semifinalists from this tournament would directly qualify for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and two more of the remaining four quarterfinalists would get direct berths to the World Cup if Australia make it to the semifinals of this tournament, which is highly probable. — TNS, agencies

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