India have been drawn with 2019 Asian Cup winners Qatar and Oman in the second round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Placed in Pot 3 for the draw, the Blue Tigers have been drawn in Group E alongside Qatar (Pot 1), Oman (Pot 2), Afghanistan (Pot 4) and Bangladesh (Pot 5).
Among the teams drawn with Igor Stimac's team, Qatar are the highest ranked, coming in at 55, followed by Oman at 86. The Indians are currently ranked 101 in the latest FIFA rankings while Afghanistan and Bangladesh make up the group with rankings of 149 and 183 respectively.
40 teams (34 top ranked and six from round of qualifying) have been drawn into eight groups of five teams each, with one team from each pot in each group.
Each team will play eight games, with the matches set to take place between September 5, 2019 and June 9, 2020. The winners of each group, along with the four best second-placed teams, will then go through to round three, and qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Apart from those 12 teams, the next 24 will then compete in a separate qualifying tournament to determine the rest of the teams that will participate at the 2023 Asian Cup to be held in China.
Based on the rankings and the strength of the opponents, India should finish third in group E and stay fully focused on qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in China.
They have played five matches under new coach Igor Stimac, and won once and drawn once, with their best performance coming against Syria in their 1-1 draw in the Intercontinental Cup.