Cambodia’s hopes of advancing from Group E of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in the Philippines have taken a heavy blow after Brunei media reported on Wednesday that their national team had pulled out of the four-team tournament.
The Brunei Times stated the Sultanate’s squad would take no part in the qualifiers, scheduled to run from tomorrow to next Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, with Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports permanent secretary Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Hamid Hj Mohd Jaafar quoted as saying it was “due to unavoidable circumstances.”
Cambodia will attempt to win both this afternoon’s game against two-time Cup runners-up Turkmenistan, which kicks off at 3:30pm, and Sunday’s match at the same time against the hosts to guarantee progression to the finals in a year’s time in the Maldives.
Cambodia head coach Prak Sovannara told the Post earlier in the week that he’d seen the Brunei clash as their only real chance of a result during the campaign.
The top teams of each of the five qualifying groups receive berths to the tournament proper, while the best two runners-up will also join them along with the host nation.
Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Palestine all secured their places in the finals by winning Groups A, B, C and D respectively.
Currently, the group runners-up in qualifying spots are Group C’s Laos on four points and +2 goal difference, and Group A’s India on three points and +3 goal difference.