The 2022 Women’s Asian Cup, to be hosted by India, will be held from January 20 to February 6, the Asian Football Confederation announced on Thursday.

The tournament featured 12 teams, expanded from eight in the previous edition, comprising three groups of four with a minimum of 25 matches being played over 18 days. Eight teams will qualify for the newly introduced quarterfinals.

The event will also serve as a qualification tournament for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will see a record five Asian teams seal their spots to join co-host Australia for the newly expanded 32-team global showpiece.

The Qualifiers for the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup will take place from September 13 to 25 in a centralised venue as the continent’s hopefuls compete for the final eight spots to join the three highest-ranked sides from the last edition — Japan, Australia and China, who alongside host India receive automatic qualification.

AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John said, “India has seen an incredible growth in recent years, and we are confident that the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India will present another historic step in the incredible journey of Indian football one that will strengthen the passion for the game and leave a lasting impact for future generations of women footballers and passionate fans.”

The tournament is one of the two marquee events being held in the country next year as the hosting rights of the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup was also handed to India after the 2020 event was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The AFC Women’s Asian Cup will not only kick-start 2022 but will be a momentous year for women’s football in India with two big events. We have seen the incremental growth and rise in popularity of women’s football with the hosting of international tournaments, and 2022 will be an important step in this journey,” All India Football Federation President, Praful Patel said.

“With the tournament expanded to 12 teams for this edition, fans will have the chance to see the best women footballers from around the Continent in India. Our preparations as hosts are on track, and we’re confident of delivering a world-class tournament for teams and fans,” he added.

India has also hosted the AFC U-16 Championships in 2016 and the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017. - PTI