Tuesday, 11 December 2012 16:53
Kuala Lumpur: Twenty nations learned the path they must take to book their place at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup at the draw for next year’s qualifying tournament.
Tuesday’s draw at AFC House saw the 20 participating teams pooled into five groups of four, with the quartet playing against each other in a one-round league in a centralised venue.
The four group winners and two best second-placed teams will join host nation the Maldives at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup finals.
The team that emerges victorious at the end of the fifth edition of the tournament will join 2012 AFC Cup Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea, who have had their status upgraded and no longer qualify for participation in the competition.
AFC Challenge Cup 2014 Qualifiers – Draw
Group A – Hosts Myanmar
Group B – Hosts Kyrgyzstan
Group C – Hosts Laos
Group D – Hosts Nepal
Northern Mariana Islands
Group E – Hosts Philippines
Matches will be played on March 2, 4 and 6 with the exception of Group B where the games will be played on March 17, 19 and 21.
The AFC Challenge Cup was a welcome introduction to the continental football calendar in 2006 with the biennial tournament established to provide the confederation’s developing and emerging nations with a more competitive platform.
Tajikistan were the inaugural AFC Challenge Cup winners with a 4-0 victory over Sri Lanka in the final before the Central Asians had to settle for second place two years later when they lost 4-1 to hosts India.
India’s victory in the 2008 final earned them qualification to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup and DPR Korea followed a similar route to Asia’s flagship tournament when they defeated Turkmenistan 5-4 on penalties in the finale of the 2010 edition in Sri Lanka.
Two years later in the most recent edition of the AFC Challenge DPR Korea and Turkmenistan met again in the final with the East Asians successfully defending their title with a 2-1 triumph in Nepal to seal their place in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.