India is set to host the top women's national teams in Asia as they compete for the premier continental title - the AFC Women's Asia Cup - next year.
The 2022 edition of the quadrennial event will also serve as the qualifiers for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The best four teams from the 2022 Women's Asian Cup, along with Australia, will take part in the 2023 Women's World Cup.
Japan are the defending champions.
The event will start on January 20, 2022, and will finish on February 6, 2022.
India will host the tournament. Ahmedabad and Navi Mumbai are the two possible venues that are likely to host the marquee event.
India was one of the three countries which had expressed interest in hosting the AFC Women’s Asian Cup alongside Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan. It will be its second time that India will be hosting the premier tournament after 1980 in Kozhikode.
In February, the AFC Women's Football Committee had recommended India as the host, and it was formally ratified on Thursday.
The tournament has also been expanded to feature 12 of the best teams on the continent. It must be noted that the previous edition of the Women's Asian Cup, which was held in Jordan, had featured only eight teams.
India qualified for the tournament by virtue of being the host. Japan, Australia and China, the best three teams from the 2018 edition, have also secured their berth. The qualifiers to determine the remaining eight spots will be held at a centralised venue from September 13 to 25, 2021.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel said: “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 (India were given the hosting right for the 2022 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup after the 2020 event was cancelled due to the pandemic). 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.
“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.”
AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John was also effusive in his praise for women's football and India as a footballing nation.
“Women’s football in Asia is world-class and with the next FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in Australia and New Zealand, there has never been a more exciting time for women’s football in the Continent," he said.
“India has seen incredible growth in recent years, in both the men’s and women’s game and we are confident that the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 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."