SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Tournament host India is to withdraw from the women’s Asian Cup currently taking place in the country after a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad prevented the team from playing its Group A game against Taiwan on Sunday.
“Following several positive cases of COVID-19, India failed to name the required minimum of 13 players," the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement.
The organization added that tournament regulations, which state that teams unable to participate in matches “shall be considered to have withdrawn from the relevant Competition,” will apply.
Withdrawal is set to also end India's chances of a debut appearance at the 2023 World Cup as the best five performing teams at the Asian Cup will travel to Australia and New Zealand for next year’s tournament.
“The team is heartbroken, and I request all to respect their feelings and sentiments,” All India Football Federation President Praful Patel said. “I am proud of the great promise the team showed in their first match (against Iran), and am confident that they will prove their mettle in the near future.”
India’s withdrawal means that there are 11 teams remaining in the tournament, won by Japan on the last two occasions.
Also on Sunday, eight-time champion China became the first team to secure a spot in the quarterfinals with a 7-0 thrashing of Iran in Mumbai.
The final will take place in Navi Mumbai on Feb. 6.
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