Kolkata: Indian men’s soccer team qualified for the Asian Cup final on Tuesday after Palestine defeated the Philippines 4-0 in a Group B match in Ulaanbaatar.
The result meant that the Palestinians qualified directly for the 24-team final, finishing as Group B tops, while the Philippines were eliminated by four points despite finishing second.
It is the first time India has qualified for the Asian Cup in two consecutive editions, after leaving a group competition in 2019.
The 24 teams in the third qualifying round were divided into six groups of four each.
The matches of each group were played in different locations with India hosting the matches of Group D.
All group winners and the five best runners-up in the six groups qualify for the Asian Cup.
As things stand, Hong Kong (six points) leads Group D ahead of India on goal difference as both teams clash in their final round later in the day.
Afghanistan and Cambodia, which have yet to open their respective accounts and have already been eliminated, will face each other in the other Group D match.
So even if India loses to Hong Kong, they will still have more points than Group B runners-up Philippines (4 points) and thus make the cut for the Asian Cup as one of the top five runners-up teams.
In their group opener India rode captain Sunil Chhetric‘s braced themselves to beat Cambodia 2-0, as they took a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Afghanistan in their second match.
Super sub Sahal Abdul Samad scored a brilliant stoppage time goal to seal the deal after Chhetri’s 83rd international goal was canceled by Afghan Zubayr Amiri in an action-packed last 10 minutes.
Overall, India has qualified for the continental flagship for the fifth time – 1964, 1984, 2011, 2019 and now in 2023.
Also read: Looking at the Asian Cup berth, India will take on Hong Kong in the battle for first place