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AFC Challenge Cup qualifying changed

The AFC has changed the dates for Group E in the qualifying round of the AFC Challenge Cup – a group that includes Cambodia – for the tournament to be held in the Maldives in 2014, due to a request by the hosts, the Philippines Football Federation.

The games will now be played on March 22, 24 and 26 in the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila instead of in early March.

The group – consisting of the Philippines, double runners-up Turkmenistan, Brunei Darussalam and Cambodia – will be the only one playing qualification games this late.

The AFC Challenge Cup, which is the counterpart of the Asian Cup, is a biennial event but is played by so-called emerging footballing countries in the Vision Asia program.

The winners of the Challenge Cup will automatically qualify for the next Asian Cup.

The last two final matches were both between North Korea and Turkmenistan, the Korean team winning both times. North Korea will no longer compete in the Cup, as they have moved up into the Asian Cup qualifiers.

The Kingdom has failed to qualify for the final stage of the competition since its introduction in 2008, and the prospects of success this year are not very high either, as Turkmenistan are one of the favourites for the Cup and the Philippines are also one of the better teams in the region.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Derbuc at christophderbuc@aol.com

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