The remaining fixtures in the second round of the Asian leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will be completed by 15th June 2021, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) confirmed on Wednesday.
The four remaining matchdays in the second round, which were originally scheduled for March-April this year, were postponed to October-November before again being pushed ahead to 2021.
In a virtual online meeting, the AFC Competitions Committee has now decided to host matchdays seven and eight before March 2021, with matchdays nine and ten to be held before 15 June 2021.
It means that the Indian football team will play against Qatar before March 2021 and will end their Group E campaign against Bangladesh and Afghanistan before June next year.
The Indian football team currently sits fourth in Group E with three points from five matches. India must win their remaining three matches to have any chance of finishing runners-up in the group and thus keep their hopes of progressing to the next round of qualifiers alive.
The third and final round of the Asian leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will begin in September 2021 and will be completed by March 2022 with the inter-continental playoff scheduled for May-June 2022.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup begins in Qatar November 21, 2022.
The first two rounds of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup also act as qualifying rounds for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
In the unlikely event of the Indian football team making it to the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, it will directly qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.
In case India are unable to go past the second round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers, they will have to play another round of qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup.