NEW DELHI, Sept 29 (PTI): Indian football team today qualified for the AFC U-16 Championship to be held next year in Malaysia after finishing second in their group qualifying round played in Kathmandu.
India qualified as one of the six best second-placed teams from the group matches of qualifying round. All the matches of each of the 10 groups were played in a single venue.
India were placed in Group D along with Iraq, Palestine and hosts Nepal. They beat Palestine (3-0) and drew against Nepal (2-2) and group toppers Iraq (0-0) to collect five points and finished second.
The Indian team had completed their group qualifying round campaign on September 24 and were awaiting the results of the other groups.
With South Korea beating China 1-0 to win Group H in Yangon, the best six second-placed teams in each group were spotted and India found themselves as one of them.
Besides India, the other five best second-placed teams to qualify for the 2018 AFC U-16 Championships are Oman (Group B), Thailand (Group G), Vietnam (Group I) and Afghanistan (Group C). Malaysia qualified as host country.
All the winners of the 10 groups -- South Korea, Australia, North Korea, Japan, Jordan, Iraq, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Tajikistan and Yemen -- qualified while hosts Malaysia qualifying automatically.
A complicated system was used to determine the five best second-placed teams as the groups had different number of teams and United Arab Emirates withdrew from Group E before the tournament.
The results against the fifth and fourth-placed teams in five and four-team groups were not considered in determining the five best second-placed teams.
So, Saudi Arabia (who finished second in Group A with nine points), Hong Kong (who finished second in Group F with six points) and China (who finished second in Group H with six points) did not qualify for the 2018 AFC U-16 Championships.