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AFC Women's Asian Cup

2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup: From Japan's WE League to Australia's A-League Women - How Asia is developing the women's game

4:55 AM EST 1/12/22
India Women XI vs Hammarby IF
GOAL takes a close look at the league system of India's AFC Women's Asian Cup rivals...

The 20th edition of the AFC Women's Asian Cup, to be hosted by India next year, will feature 12 teams from the continent. This will be the second time that India will be hosting the competition after 1979.

The championship will also act as the final stage of Asian qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Five teams will qualify for the main event directly while two of them will progress to the inter-confederation play-offs. 

Other than hosts India, 11 teams who have qualified for the tournament are, Japan, Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, South Korea, Iran, Philippines and Thailand.

The tournament will be held from January 20 to February 6 2022 in three venues, Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune.

Here, we take a look at the domestic league structure of India's rivals.

Iran

Kowsar Women's Football League is the primary competition for women footballers in Iran which was established 14 years ago in 2007. Khatoon FC based out of Bam are the most successful team in the history of the competition with seven titles to their name. The last edition of the league (2020-21 season) saw 11 teams participating. They were divided into two groups (one group of five and one group of six) and the matches were played in a two-legged round-robin format. After the group stage, two teams from each group qualified for the final round where the four teams played each other in two-legged ties and Shahrdari Sirjan won the title in the end.
The 2021-22 season kicked off on November 13, 2021, with a total of 12 teams taking part.

Philippines

The PFF Women's League, started in 2016, is the primary competition for women's club football in Philippines. De La Salle University are the most successful team in the brief history of the league, winning the title three times.

The last edition was in 2019 where 10 clubs took part and played in a two-legged round-robin format. De Salle University won the title for a record third time registering 45 points in 18 matches.

In 2020 the league was not held due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There are plans to resume the league in 2021 but is subject to their national government's approval.

South Korea

The WK League is the premier competition for women's football in South Korea. The league was established in 2009 where eight teams take part. The participating teams play each other thrice in a season (21 matches for a team) and the team with the highest points win the league.

Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels are the defending champions and are the most successful team in the history of the league with eight titles to their name. From 2013 to 2021, Incheon Hyundai have won all the league titles.

The 2021 season of the WK League was held between April 26, 2021, to October 5 2021. Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels won the league title eighth consecutive time with 52 points from 21 matches.

Indonesia

The Liga 1 Putri is the top-flight women's football league in Indonesia which was formed in 2019. Persib Putri won the inaugural edition of the league. 10 teams competed in the first-ever season of the league. They were divided into two groups initially and then four teams qualified for the knock-out stage. Since 2019, the league has not been conducted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Vietnam

The Vietnamese Women's Football Championship is the premier women's competition in Vietnam which was formed in 1998. Ho Chi Minh City I Women's FC is the most successful club in the history of the league with nine titles. They are also the defending champions. Eight teams take part in the league in a two-legged round-robin format.

The 2020 Vietnamese Women's Football Championship was the last time the league was held. It was conducted between September 22, 2020, to December 13, 2020.

Chinese Taipei

The Taiwan Mulan Football League is the premier women's competition in Chinese Taipei which was formed in 2014. Hualien are the most successful club in the history of the league with four titles. They are also the defending champions. Six teams take part in the league where they play each other three times in a season.

The 2020 Taiwan Mulan Football League was the last time the league was held. It was conducted between April 11, 2020, to November 7, 2020.

China

Chinese Women's Super League is the top tier league of women's football in China. It was established in 1997 and was called the Chinese Women's National Football League from 2011 to 2014.

10 teams participate in the league and they play each other once. At the end of the league stage, the top five teams fight it out for the championship where they once again play each other once. Similarly, the bottom five teams play each other once and the lowest-ranked team get relegated to the second division, Chinese Women's Football League.

Wuhan Jianghan University won the last edition of the league which was held in 2020. Other than the two leagues, 16 clubs take part in the Chinese Women's FA Cup a premier knock-out competition in the country.

Australia

The A-League Women, formed in 2008, is the premier competition of domestic women's football in Australia. Melbourne City FC have won the title on four occasions in the past, the most by any club in Australia.

The 2020-21 season was the last time the A-League Women was held where nine teams participated and played 12 matches each. At the end of the league, four teams qualified for the Final Series which is a knock-out.

Japan

Women Empowerment League is the top-tier league in Japanese women's football. There are three tiers in the structure. The second and third divisions leagues are Nadeshiko League Division 1 and Nadeshiko League Division 2.

The ongoing 2021-22 season is the first-ever edition of the Women Empowerment League. The league started on September 12, 2021 and will end on May 21, 2022. 11 teams participate in the league and they will play each other twice during the season in a round-robin format.

India

The Indian Women's League (IWL) was formed in 2016 and so far four seasons have been conducted. Gokulam Kerala are the reigning champions who won the title for the first time in the 2019-20 season.

In the inaugural edition, six teams participated but in the last season, 12 teams took part in the league. The 12 teams were divided into two groups of six clubs each. After the round-robin stage, the top two teams from each group qualified for the knock-out stage.

Since 2020, the IWL has not been conducted due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Thailand

In Thai there two divisions where the Thai Women's league stand at the top of the pyramid. It was established in 2009 and since then has been running as the top division national women's league. The number of participants in the league varies between eight to 11. 

In the 2020-21 season, eight teams took part in the league which was divided into two legs. The teams played each other once in the first phase after which the top four teams competed among each other to decide the title winner while the teams ranked between five to eight played each other to decide the team who will get relegated to the Thai Women's League 2.

The league had to be stopped on multiple occasions last season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and currently, only one round is left to be completed.

Myanmar

The premier league of Myanmar women's football is known as The Women's League which was established in 2016. Myawady FC are the most successful team with two titles to their name while ISPE FC are the reigning champions. The last time the league was held was in 2018.

In the 2018-19 edition of the league, eight teams participated who played each other twice in a round-robin format.

More news about the WAC22 on the-afc.com