Kuala Lumpur: The Indian football team, on Wednesday (July 17) were handed a comparatively easy draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup second round Asian qualifiers, after being clubbed with Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Group E.


As many as 40 Asian countries were divided into eight groups of five teams each in the draw held at the Asian Football Confederation headquarters. All the teams in each group would play home-and-away round-robin matches starting from September 5.

The eight group winners and four top runners-up will advance to the final round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Finals, which is scheduled to be held in China.

The next top 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers would compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team Asian Cup.

India avoided the big guns from Pot 1 like Iran, Japan, Korea, Australia and Saudi Arabia. But the team could not avoid the previous season's Asian Cup champions, Qatar.

Interestingly, India was also drawn along with Oman in the second-round qualifiers of the 2018 World Cup. The Arab nation beat India 2-1 (in Bengaluru) and 3-0 (in Muscat) in 2015.