India to learn their 2014 AFC Challenge Cup fate on Nov. 29
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is likely to announce the hosts for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup in their next executive committee meeting on November 29. AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told Sportskeeda.com that besides India, there are three other nations in the running.
“We are hopeful of hosting the competition but the decision will be made in the next AFC executive committee meeting. Philippines, Tajikistan and Maldives are the other countries who are bidding to host the tournament,” Das told Sportskeeda.
With North Korea having won the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, where India crashed out from the group stage, the 2014 edition presents India the only chance to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup because as per new AFC rules the emerging nations of the continent are ineligible for the qualifiers, where only the top 23 teams of Asia are participating.
The top three teams from the last edition of the Asian Cup – Japan, Australia (hosts as well) and South Korea have automatically qualified so the remaining 20 nations will be fighting it out in the qualifiers.
India had hosted the Challenge Cup in 2008 and won it to qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup. Wim Koevermans will be looking to emulate that feat but if India fails to get the hosting rights, they would have to go through the qualifiers, to be played in March 2013.
If India does host the tournament, the matches will either be played at Margao’s Nehru Stadium or New Delhi’s JLN Sports Complex, although a final decision will only be taken once the host nation is announced.
Nepal rejects friendly offer
Meanwhile, AIFF had requested Nepal for an international friendly on November 14 after the cancellation of the Yemen friendly but the Nepal FA refused the offer citing very little time to prepare for the match.
“Yes we had requested Nepal but they said they can‘t prepare in such short time and also have a festival coming up. We are confident of playing on the next FIFA match date, which is on February 6,” Das stated.