Stars descend on India: Know all teams playing at AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022

The AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 is the 20th edition of the continental competition that began way back in 1975 and was then known as the Asian Cup Ladies Football Tournament. The tournament this year is all set to take place at three locations — DY Patil Stadium – Navi Mumbai, Mumbai Football Arena – Mumbai and Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune — from January 20 to February 6.

Japan are coming into the tournament as the defending champions while North Korea, the highest-ranked Asian team withdrew from the qualifiers of the tournament citing concerns around coronavirus.

India, who had never ‘qualified’ for the Asian Cup are participating by virtue of being the hosts. India have made eight appearances in the Asian Cup, all of them being when no qualifiers were held to make the final round.

12 teams are participating in the continental championships with teams divided in three groups of four each. As the hosts, India are drawn in Group A while Australia and Japan are in Group B and respectively, with a potential final clash between the top guns.

We take a look at all the 12 teams participating in the tournament.

GROUP A

China

World Ranking – 19, Asia Ranking – 5

China qualified for the tournament, finishing third in the 2018 edition in Jordan. They have made a total of 14 appearances in the competition and have emerged champions eight times (1986, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2006).

China are one of the powerhouses of Asian football and are known as the team that like to play with short passes. China have made seven appearances at the World Cup with their best result being a runners-up finish in 1999.

China have not played any international competitive game since July 2021, when they lost to the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics.

Players to watch out for:

Wang Shanshan – She is the captain of the team and has 144 national team caps to her name. Shanshan has scored 52 goals in her career and is registered as a defender. During the 2015 World Cup, she was termed as a defender on paper but was used as a centre-forward.

Wang Shuang – A midfielder by trade, Shuang has 113 national caps and has scored 34 goals for the country. She is sometimes referred to as the “female Leo Messi” in China. She played for Paris Saint-Germain in the 2018-19 season, scoring seven goals in 18 appearances. She was also named the Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2018.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Zhu Yu (1), Xu Huan (12), Zhao Lina (22).

Defenders – Ma Jun (5), Zhang Xin (6), Wang Shanshan (11), Zhang Linyan (19).

Midfielders – Li Mengwen (2), Wang Xiaoxue (3), Li Jiayue (4), Wang Shuang (7), Yao Wei (8), Wu Chengshu (15), Yao Lingwei (16), Tang Jiali (18), Xiao Yuyi (20), Li Ying (21), Gao Chen (23).

Forwards – Wang Yanwen (9), Zhang Rui (10), Yang Lina (13), Lou Jiahui (14), Liu Yanqiu (17).

Chinese Taipei

World Ranking – 39, Asia Ranking – 8

Chinese Taipei qualified after topping their group in the qualification, beating Laos 4-0 and Bahrain 2-0. They have made 13 appearances in the competition and are three-time champions (1977, 1980 and 1981).

Taipei are a traditional powerhouse in Asian football but are making their first appearance in the competition since 2008. They have just one appearance at the World Cup in 1991 when they reached the quarter-finals.

Apart from the two qualification games, Chinese Taipei played only one other game last year, where they lost 1-0 to India in a friendly. 18 members of the squad during that friendly have also come for the Asian Cup.

Players to watch out for:

Hsu Yi-Yun – The midfielder is the most experienced member of the squad with 40 national caps to her name.

Lee Hsiu-Chin – With 27 national caps and nine goals to her name, the forward will be crucial to Taipei’s chances of finding the back of the net in the tournament.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Tsai Ming-Jung (1), Liao Wen-Chi (12), Cheng Ssu-Yu (18), Wang Yu-Ting (21).

Defenders – Lai Wei-Ju (4), Pan Shin-Yu (5), Pan Yen-Hsin (13), Su Sin-Yun (15), Chang Su-Hsin (16), Chang Tzu-Nuo (23).

Midfielders – Chang Chi-Lan (2), Zhuo Li-Ping (6), Wang Hsiang-Huei (8), Hsu Yi-Yun (9), Wu Ka-Ching (14), Ting Chi (17), Chen Ying-Hui (20), Ting Chia-Ying (22).

Forwards – Lin Hsin-Hui (3), Chen Yen-Ping (7), Lee Hsiu-Chin (10), Lai Li-Chin (11), Su Yu-Hsuan (19).

India

World Ranking – 55, Asia Ranking – 11

India are playing in the Asian Cup by virtue of being the hosts and this is their first appearance in the competition in 19 years. India’s last Asian Cup appearance was in 2003, when they failed to make it beyond the group stage. Since then, India have not been able to qualify for the continental championship.

India first participated in the Asian Cup in 1980 when they hosted the tournament in Kochi (then known as Calicut). India have made a total of eight appearances in the tournament with their best result being two runners-up finishes (1980 and 1983).

In the past year, in the run-up to the tournament, India have played 14 international matches, winning three of them, including one against Chinese Taipei.

Players to watch out for:

Manisha Kalyan – Manisha is India’s X-factor in the forward line. She scored against Brazil in the International Football Tournament of Manaus on November 25, 2021 and has the speed and accuracy that can trouble the opponents.

Ashalata Devi – The captain of the Indian team has the most number of caps (64) in the squad of 23. Ashalata has been a mainstay in the team and is a solid centre-back. A lot will be riding on her managing the team from the back and keeping the defensive line tight.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Aditi Chauhan (1), Maibam Linthoingambi Devi (2), Sowmiya Narayanasamy (3).

Defenders – Dalima Chhibber (4), Ngangbam Sweety Devi (5), Ritu Rani (6), Loitongbam Ashalata Devi (7), Manisa Panna (8), Hemam Shilky Devi (9), Sanju (10).

Midfielders – Yumnam Kamala Dev (11), Anju Tamang (12), Karthika Angamuthu (13), Nongmeithem Ratanbala Devi (14), Naorem Priyangka Devi (15), Indumathi Kathiresan (16).

Forwards – Grace Dangmei (17), Manisha (18), Pyrai Xaxa (19), Renu (20), Sumati Kumari (21), Sandhiya Ranganathan (22), Mariyammal Balamurugan (23).

Iran

World Ranking – 70, Asia Ranking – 14

This is Iran’s first-ever appearance at the Asian Cup after they beat Bangladesh 5-0 and Jordan 4-3 (0-0) on penalties in the qualification tournament. Apart from these two matches, Iran have played four friendly matches, losing three and drawing one.

While it is known that there was an Iranian women’s national team in 1970s, there’s nothing further recorded about their existence. The team was refounded in 2005, when they played first international on September 23 against Syria and won 5-0.

Players to watch out for:

Afsahneh Chatrenoor – The striker has only 16 national caps but has displayed excellent accuracy with both her feet and head. Last year at the AFC Women’s Club Championship, she scored goals against India’s Gokulam Kerala FC and Jordan’s Amman FC for her club Shahrdari Sirjan.

Sara Ghomi – The most experienced player in the squad, Ghomi has 52 national caps and has scored 17 goals. She is the most prolific Iranian female goalscorer of all time and was the top scorer in Kowsar Women’s League from 2012-16.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Zohreh Koodaei (1), Maryam Yektaei (12), Arefeh Seyedkazemi (22).

Defenders – Fatemeh Amineh (2), Hadieh Kor (3), Melika Motevalli (4), Ghazaelh Banitalebi (5), Behnaz Taherkhani (8), Zohreh Jalali (15), Fatemeh Adeli (19).

Midfielders – Zahra Sarbali (6), Sara Zohrabinia (10), Samaneh Chahkandi (11), Yasaman Farmani (13), Elham Farahmand (14), Zahra Masoumi (16), Melika Mohammadi (18), Marzieh Nikkhah (21), Sana Sadeghi (23).

Forwards – Afsaneh Chatrenoor (7), Sara Ghomi (9), Negin Zandi (17), Hajar Dabbaghi (20).

GROUP B

Australia

World Ranking – 11, Asia Ranking – 2

Australia qualified for the tournament as the runners-up of the 2018 edition in Jordan. This is their sixth appearance at the Asian Cup and their best result came in the 2010 China edition, when they emerged as the champions.

Australia’s rise in Asian and world football has been steep. Having moved from Oceania to AFC (Asian Football Confederation), Australia first played the Asian Cup in 2006 and finished runners-up. The 2008 Vietnam Asian Cup is the only edition when Australia didn’t make the final.

In 2021, Australia played 16 matches, winning three of them. The Matildas played the bronze medal match against the United States at the Tokyo Olympics last year, which they lost 4-3.

Players to watch out for:

Sam Kerr – She is one of the biggest names in world football at the moment and has been crucial to Chelsea’s rise in the Women’s Super League (WSL). She has won back-to-back WSL title and has reached the Champions League final with the London club. She is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer with 49 goals.

Alanna Kennedy – With 102 national caps, Kennedy is one of the most experienced members of the squad. She is known for being extremely versatile and technical. She is a right-footed free kick specialist and has played in two World Cups after making her debut in the tournament as a 20-year-old.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Lydia Williams (1), Teagan Micah (12), Mackenzie Arnold (18).

Defenders – Courtney Nevin (2), Aivi Luik (3), Clare Polkinghorne (4), Steph Catley (7), Charlotte Grant (8), Tameka Yallop (13), Alanna Kennedy (14), Ellie Carpenter (21).

Midfielders – Clare Wheeler (6), Emily van Egmond (10), Mary Fowler (11), Kyra Cooney-Cross (19).

Forwards – Cortnee Vine (5), Caitlin Foord (9), Emily Gielnik (15), Hayley Raso (16), Kyah Simon (17), Sam Kerr (20), Holly McNamara (22), Remy Siemsen (23).

Indonesia

World Ranking – 47, Asia Ranking – 10

This is their first appearance in the competition in over three decades as their previous appearance came in 1989, finishing fifth. This is only the fifth time Indonesia is playing the Asian Cup with their best results being fourth place finishes in 1977 and 1986.

In contrast to their men’s side, Indonesia does not have much tradition of women’s football but have been as high as world No.53 back in July 2003.

Last year, Indonesia played only two matches, which were the Asian Cup qualifiers, beating Singapore twice in the play-offs with the identical scoreline of 1-0.

Players to watch out for:

Zahra Muzdalifah – With 19 national caps, 20-year-old Muzdalifah is one of the most experienced players in the squad. She has scored three goals for the national team and was on target at the 2018 Asian Games.

Shalika Aurelia – Just 18 years of age, Shalika has made eight appearances for the national team and is the first female footballer from the country to have signed for a club abroad (Roma CF in Serie B).

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Nurhalimah (1), Fani (19), Riska Aprilia (21).

Defenders – Remini Chere Rumbewas (2), Shalika Aurelia Viandrisa (4), Ade Mustikiana Oktafiani (9), Diah Tri Lestari (14), Tia Darti Septiawati (18).

Midfielders – Rosdilah Siti Nurrohmah (3), Sabrina Mutiara Firdaus W. (5), Pani Tri Oktavianti (6), Octavianti Dwi Nurmalita (7), Maulina Novryliani (8), Rani Mulya Sari (10), Helsya Maeisyaroh (15), Viny Sulfianus Sunaryo (20), Reva Octaviani (23).

Forwards – Baiq Amiatun Shalihah (11), Zahra Muzdalifah (12), Marsela Yuliana Awi (13), Carla Bio Pattinararany (16), Vivi Oktavia Riski (17), Insyafadya Salsabillah (22).

Philippines

World Ranking – 64, Asia Ranking – 13

Philippines, on and off, have been playing in the Asian Cup since 1981 and have made nine appearances in total. However, their best finished came in the 2018 edition in Jordan, when they finished sixth.

They qualified for the 2022 Asian Cup topping their group, winning both their matches against Hong Kong (2-1) and Nepal (2-1). They haven’t played any other game in the previous year.

Philippines’ coach is the former Australian women’s team coach Alen Stajcic and he said what he loves the most about the group is that it’s a positive bunch.

Players to watch out for:

Tahnai Annis – The 32-year-old midfielder has only six national caps but scored two crucial goals in the qualifiers to get her country to the Asian Cup. She is also the captain of the team.

Sarina Bolden – With just eight national caps but four goals, Bolden is one to look out for. At the 2018 Asian Cup, she was the party-pooper for Jordan fans as he scored the goal that took Philippines to the fifth place play-off and just a game away from making the 2019 World Cup.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Inna Palacios (1), Kiara Fontanilla (22), Olivia McDaniel (23).

Defenders – Dominique Randle (3), Tara Shelton (4), Hali Long (5), Kristen Ryley Bugay (10), Morgan Brown (13), Isabella Flanigan (14), Sofia Harrison (16), Katrina Guillou (21).

Midfielders – Malea Louise Cesar (2), Tahnai Annis (6), Camille Rodriguez (7), Jessica Micalt (9), Anicka Castaneda (11), Sara Castaneda (12), Keanne Alamo (17), Quinley Quezada (20).

Forwards – Chandler McDaniel (8), Carleigh Frilles (15), Sarina Bolden (18), Eva Madarang (19).

Thailand

World Ranking – 38, Asia Ranking – 7

Thailand have made a massive 16 appearances in the Asian Cup and were also the champions of the 1983 edition, where they beat India 3-0 in the final. They had a very comfortable qualifying campaign as they defeated Malaysia 4-0 and Palestine 7-0 to top their group.

Thailand have a history of fielding a decent team and have been growing in stature over the past decade. They finished fifth at the 2014 Asian Cup and then grabbed a semi-final spot in 2018 to qualify for the World Cup.

Thai players are known for their exceptional fighting spirit, which is what they would want to bring to the table in the Asian Cup.

Players to watch out for:

Miranda Nild – Nild is an American-born Thai player and despite having only 20 national caps, she has already scored 15 goals for the country. During the previous edition of the Asian Cup, she scored twice against Jordan and played a part in all three goals against Philippines to guide her team to the World Cup.

Taneekarn Dangda – With 80 national caps and 32 goals, Dangda is going to be very crucial for Thailand’s campaign. This is her third appearance at the Asian Cup. She is a forward who has speed, an eye for goal and the ability to run at the defenders from the wide positions.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Waraporn Boonsing (1), Chotmanee Thongmongkol (18), Tiffany Sornpao (22).

Defenders – Kanjanaporn Saenkhun (2), Phonlhirun Philawan (4), Amornrat Utchai (5), Warunee Phetwiset (9), Sunisa Srangthaisong (10), Jaruwan Chaiyarak (11), U-Raiporn Yongkul (16), Pitsamai Sornsai (19).

Midfielders – Irravadee Makris (3), Pikul Khueanpet (6), Silawan Intamee (7), Nipawan Panyosuk (8), Nutwadee Pramnak (12), Orapin Waenngoen (15), Wilaiporn Boothduang (20), Chatchawan Rodthong (21).

Forwards – Kanyanat Chetthabutr (13), Saowalak Pengngam (14), Taneekarn Dangda (17), Miranda Nild (23).

GROUP C

Japan

World Ranking – 13, Asia Ranking – 3

Japan are here to defend their title. They possess pedigree, power and will have the zeal to reclaim their position as the top-ranked team in Asia. The two-time champions (2014 and 2018) are making their 17th appearance at the Asian Cup.

In 2021, Japan played 11 matches, winning five of them. Japan played the Olympics last year at home but could only get one win and made the quarter-finals, only to lose to Sweden 3-1.

Japan have a superior head-to-head record against every team they have played against in Asia will be and will be looking to bring back the glory days of 2011 World Cup.

Players to watch out for:

Mana Iwabuchi – Iwabuchi is a Japan legend have appeared for the country in 83 games and scoring 37 goals. The current Arsenal forward was a part of Japan’s 2011 World Cup-winning squad and was the MVP of the 2018 Asian Cup.

Yui Hasegawa – 24-year-old Hasegawa has already made 53 appearances for Japan and has scored 11 goals. She was an important part of the Japanese team that won the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and the 2015 AFC U-19 Championship. It was Hasegawa’s through ball that helped Kumi Yokoyama score the winning goal of the 2018 Asian Cup final.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Sakiko Ikeda (1), Ayaka Yamashita (18), Momoko Tanaka (21).

Defenders – Risa Shimizu (2), Moeka Minami (3), Saki Kumagai (4), Shiori Miyake (5), Asato Miyagawa (6), Ruka Norimatsu (12), Hana Takahashi (20), Saori Takarada (22).

Midfielders – Rin Sumida (7), Hikaru Naomoto (8), Jun Endo (13), Yui Hasegawa (13), Fuka Nagano (15), Honoka Hayashi (16), Yui Narumiya (17), Hinata Miyazawa (23).

Forwards – Yuika Sugasawa (9), Mana Iwabuchi (10), Mina Tanaka (11), Riko Ueki (19).

Korea Republic

World Ranking – 18, Asia Ranking – 4

Korea Republic or South Korea have previously made 12 appearances at the Asian Cup with their best result being a third-place finish at the 2003 edition. They comfortably qualified for the tournament with 12-0 win over Mongolia and a 4-0 victory against Uzbekistan.

Last year, South Korea played eight matches, including the Asian Cup qualifiers, and won four of them. They have qualified for three World Cups with their best result being a Round of 16 appearance in 2015.

South Korea are not a traditional powerhouse in Asia, their neighbours North Korea are more well-known, but just like their men’s team, they have been progressively rising in stature.

Players to watch out for:

Ji So-yun – One of the most experienced members of the squad with 131 caps and 59 goals, she will be responsible for guiding the players around her and making the team tick. The 30-year-old playmaker is expected to bring all her expertise from Chelsea, with whom she has won 10 titles in eight years, including the quadruple in the 2020-21 season.

Cho So-hyun – 133 national caps makes her the most experienced in the squad and the midfielder has also scored 22 goals for the national team. She was the captain of the team when they earned their best finish in the World Cup in 2015.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Yoon Young-geu (1), Kim Jung-mi (18), Kang Ga-ae (19).

Defenders – Choo Hylpo- joo (2), Shim Seo-yeon (4), Hong Hye-ji (5), Lim Seon-joo (6), Jang Sel-gi (16), Lee Young-ju (17), Kim Hye-ri (20).

Midfielders – Lee Min-a (7), Cho So-hyun (8), Yeo Min-ji (9), Ji So-yun (10), Lee Geum-min (13), Cho Mi-jin (14), Park Ye-eun (15), Kim Seong-mi (21), Lee Jeong-min (22).

Forwards – Seo Ji-youn (3), Choe Yu-ri (11), Moon Mi-ra (12), Son Hwa-yeon (23).

Vietnam

World Ranking – 32, Asia Ranking – 6

Vietnam had stormed into the Asian Cup 2022 final round with resounding 16-0 and 7-0 wins over Maldives and Tajikistan, respectively, in the qualifying campaing and will be one of the teams to follow this tournament.

This is their ninth appearance in the continental championship and the best they have produced is a sixth-place finish in the 2014 edition.

Vietnam, in the last decade, have worked on their women’s football from the grassroots to improve their overall play and are now bearing fruits of the same.

Players to watch out for:

Huynh Nhu – The captain of the team, 30-year-old Nhu has 55 national caps in which she has scored 51 goals. She is one of the most decorated footballers in her country and has the knack for turning up at important moments.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung – With 60 national caps and 36 goals, Dung is the most experienced member of the squad. The midfielder was the first Vietnamese athlete to make it to the BBC 100 Women List and deadly with both feet.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – Lai Thi Tuyet (1), Tran Thi Kim Thanh (14), Khong Thi Hang (20).

Defenders – Luong Thi Thu Thuong (2), Chuong Thi Kieu (3), Tran Thi Thu (4), Tran Thi Duyen (5), Le Thi Diem My (13), Pham Thi Tuoi (15), Tran Thi Phuong Thao (17), Nguyen Thi My Anh (22).

Midfielders – Pham Hoang Quynh (6), Nguyen Thi Tuyet Dung (7), Thai Thi Thao (11), Duong Thi Van (16), Nguyen Thi Van (18), Nguyen Thi Thanh Nha (19), Ngan Thi Van Su (21), Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy (23).

Forwards – Huynh Nhu (9), Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan (10), Pham Hai Yen.

Myanmar

World Ranking – 47, Asia Ranking – 10

Myanmar are a side that is consistently improving and making a place in Asian football. Having made four appearances in the Asian Cup before, they have never been able to go beyond the group stage. Their first appearance in the competition was in 2003.

They qualified for the tournament, winning their group after 4-0, 8-0 and 2-0 wins over Lebanon, Guam and UAE respectively.

Placed in the group of death, Myanmar have a very tough task ahead of them but the least they would want is no easy wins for their opponents.

Players to watch out for:

Win Theingi Tun – She is Myanmar’s top scorer with 56 goals in 60 national team games. She debut for the national team at the age of 19 and has been a regular fixture ever since. The 26-year-old helped Myawady FC to back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019 in the Myanmar Women’s League and is now contracted with India’s Gokulam Kerala FC.

Khin Moe Wai – The forward is the second-most experienced member in the squad with 92 national caps and 30 goals in her career. She scored for the team in the 2020 AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament and her team will need her to be at her best if they are to have a chance.

Squad (Jersey Number):

Goalkeepers – May Zin Nwe (1), Zu Latt Nadi (18), Khine Zar Win (21).

Defenders – Aye Aye Moe (2), Chit Chit (3), Khin Myo Win (4), Phyu Phyu Win (5), Nant Zu Zu Htet (12), Zune Yu Ya Oo (15), Khin Than Wai (21), Ei Ei Kyaw (22).

Midfielders – Thin Thin Yu (6), Saw Thaw Thaw (8), Khin Mo Mo Tun (9), Khin Marlar Tun (10), Hnin Pwint Aye (13), Win Win (14), Naw Htet Htet Wai (16), Myat Noe Khin (17), Nu Nu (20).

Forwards – Win Theingi Tun (7), Khin Moe Wai (11), July Kyaw (19).

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