AFC Women's Asian Cup '22: Young, old...

Check out the characteristics that define the best in the continent

AFC Women's Asian Cup '22:  Young, old...
Check out the youngest & oldest players at the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022

PUNE: With the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 scheduled to begin on Thursday, 20 January 2022 all 12 participating countries have released their 23-women squads.

And, as they say, age is just a number, three-time semi-finalists South Korea has the oldest squad, with an average squad age of 28 years and 3 months (seven of their players are in the 31-37 years bracket and average 34 years). They are followed by 8-time winners (including 7 in a row 1986-1999 & 2006) China with their average ages being 27 years 5 months.

The tournament’s youngest squad is from Indonesia, with a median age of 22 years and 6 months, followed by host’s India, with 23 years and 6 months.

In fact, Indonesia, who has figured in just 4 championships with the last being 1989 in Hong Kong) has in their ranks 8 teenagers - the maximum among all competing nations. India, likewise, has 4 teenagers, Sumati Kumari (17 years), Priyangka Devi (18 years) and Mariyammal Balamurugan (both 18 years) all regulars of the Under-19 Indian team. The fourth is Hemam Shilky Devi.

Both Indonesia and India sport the youngest players of the tournament wherein India’s defender Hemam Shilky Devi 16 years 1 month 25 days edges out midfielder Helsya Maeisyaroh (Indonesia) 16 years 8 months 10 days. Shilky, hailing from Manipur, is the captain of the Under-17 Indian team and made her senior debut against Brazil in 2021.

India's Hemam Shilky Devi, Pic: twitter


South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jung Mi is the tournament’s oldest player, at 37 years 3 months and 1 day. The veteran has 2 World Cup appearances and started the first choice at the 2015 World Cup, Canada where Korea reached the KO stage for the first time before exiting with a 3-0 loss to France in the last-16.

South Korea's Kim Jung Mi, Pic: twitter

On a comeback Australia midfielder, Aivi Luik at 36 years 9 months 29 days follows. A 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup winner, Aivi made 3 appearances at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, before announcing retirement in August 2021. Five months later, Aivi returned to be part of the Asian Cup 2022.

Australia's Aivi Luik, Pic: twitter


Japan and China, unlike the rest of their rivals, are the only team to not have a single teenager on their roster. The youngest among the Japanese is Angel City midfielder Jun Endo and Urawa Reds defender Hana Takahashi who are both 21 years old. Endo has previously played in the Under-17 and 20 World Cups. For China, forward Zhang Linyan, who turned 21 on 16th January 2022, is the youngest!


2010 Asian Cup winners and two-time finalists in Australia bring in 17/23 players who figure in Europe! Most of the Australians – 10 to be precise – play in the FA WSL (Football Association – Women’s Super League) in England. The other players plying their trade are in Sweden (3) France (2) and Italy and Denmark (1 each). 

Among the 12 teams that line up, 16 players - Australia (10), China (1), Japan (2), South Korea (3) are signed with English clubs.  Arsenal FC with 4 players has the maximum Asian presence, while West Ham (3), Tottenham Hotspurs (3), Aston Villa (1), Manchester City (2), Chelsea (2), Brighton & Hove Albion WFC (1) make up the rest.


The Philippines, similarly, has 17/23 playing overseas only just spread across 3 continents. Out in North America, 12 players figure in university teams, in Europe 3 figure in Cyprus, Spain and Sweden respectively, while in Asia 1 plays in Japan.

India and Vietnam remain the only two sides who go into the tournament with players drawn from their own National League – Indian Women’s League and Vietnamese Women's Football Championship.


Thailand GK - Waraporn Boonsing, Pic: twitter

Last but not the least, Thailand, who along with Japan have had 16 appearances in the Asian Cup, has in their midst Waraporn Boonsing, who with 155 caps is the ‘most capped player' of the tournament. The 31-year-old goalkeeper also boasts of playing in the 2015 and 2019 World Cup’s held in Canada and France respectively. Zhang Rui (China; 153 caps) and Sunisa Srangthaisong (Thailand; 152 caps) follow.

(Micky Aigner)