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Taiwan's matchup against India in Women's Asian Cup canceled by COVID-19

2022-01-25
Focus Taiwan
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Image taken from Chinese Taipei Football Association Facebook
Image taken from Chinese Taipei Football Association Facebook
Taiwan's women's national soccer team training in India. Photo taken from Chinese Taipei Football Association Facebook
Taiwan's women's national soccer team training in India. Photo taken from Chinese Taipei Football Association Facebook
Image taken from Chinese Taipei Football Association Facebook
Image taken from Chinese Taipei Football Association Facebook

Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Taiwan's matchup against India in the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women's Asian Cup 2022 on Sunday was cancelled following an outbreak of COVID-19 among the South Asian host team's members, according to the confederation.

The game, which was supposed to be Taiwan's second competition in the tournament, was cancelled just minutes after kickoff time because of India's inability to field the required minimum of 13 players for the matchup that was supposed to be played at D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai, the confederation said in a statement.

As many as 12 out of 23 players on the Indian side, nicknamed the "Blue Tigresses," were found to be positive for the coronavirus, while another two were injured, leaving the team with only nine players available, according to local media reports.

However, events surrounding the cancellation are still shrouded in mystery as the AFC statement failed to clarify the Indian team's continued participation in the tournament, which is being played in a bubble.

Furthermore, even though all statistics of India's only game played so far -- against Iran on Jan. 20 -- has been deleted, the host now ranks second in its group standings with zero games played, while Taiwan follows in third place and Iran in fourth place, after both lost to China 0-4 and 0-7, respectively.

According to "AFC's Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions During COVID-19 Pandemic" booklet, a team that cannot compete in a match because it has fewer than 13 participating players, is held responsible for the match not taking place and shall be considered to have withdrawn from the relevant competition.

It means that if the "Blue Tigresses" withdraws after the competition had started, then all of their games will be cancelled and considered null and void, while any points earned from previous games will not count towards the final standings in the group.

The rules, however, also state that "in exceptional circumstances and provided that any rescheduling will not affect the Match Schedule determined by the AFC General Secretariat, the AFC Competitions Committee (or any sub-committee carrying out duties on its behalf) may grant an exception to the foregoing and allow the relevant match to be rescheduled."

With India's points reset to 0 and its past and future games labeled as cancelled, but the team still being ranked in the standings, the AFC has yet to fully clarify if it has fully withdrawn.

Meanwhile, following a 0-4 loss to China, Taiwan was eager to win its game against India on Sunday and another against Iran on Jan. 26, to secure one of the top two places in the standings in Group A in order to progress to the quarterfinals.

Under the current situation where India has zero points, Taiwan just needs to at least gain a draw against Iran on Jan. 26 to advance to the quarterfinals by securing second place in the group.

Taiwan is also eyeing tickets to the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which can be booked if it makes the semifinals at the current Asian Cup. Two more teams from the remaining quarterfinalists will also get slots to the World Cup if co-host Australia makes it to the semifinals.

The AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022, the 20th edition of the tournament, saw Taiwan make a return for the first time in 14 years. It is Taiwan's 14th appearance in the continental showpiece, but its first since 2008.

Taiwan's women's soccer team is a three-time Asian champion, having won the title in 1977, 1979 and 1981.

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