India to host AFC Challenge Cup in August 2008

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New Delhi, Dec 23 (UNI) India will host the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup football tournament in August either in the Capital or in Hyderabad, All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said today.

''AFC has allotted 2008 and 2010 AFC Challenge Cup to India. We have proposed New Delhi and Hyderabad to host the tournament. An AFC delegate will come next month to inspect the infrastructure in the two cities and decide on one venue,'' Mr Dasmunsi told journalists at a press conference after the AIFF Annual General Body meeting here.

''We need two practice grounds besides the main playing pitch.

Hyderabad, which hosted the Military World Games in October, has good infrastructure while New Delhi successfully hosted the Nehru Cup in August, so we proposed the the two cities,'' he added.

The AFC Challenge Cup, to be played among Asia's 20 lower-ranked countries, was originally scheduled to be held from March 1 to 16 in Chinese Taipei.

AFC later offered the tournament to Thailand after Chinese Taipei failed to meet the AFC requirements.

Thailand expressed its inability to host the tournament at the last minute and India chipped in and offered to host the tournament though five months after the original date.

''The tournament will not be held in March. It will now be held in August,'' AIFF General Secretary Alberto Colaco, who was also present at the press conference, said.

The winner of the tournament (and winner of next edition in 2010) will directly qualify for 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.

India has also been seeded third in the tournament and will directly qualify for the main competition without playing the qualification round.

Four teams -- North Korea, Turkemenistan, Myanmar and India -- will directly qualify for the tournament proper.

Sixteen other teams will be divided into four groups and the topper of each group will join the four teams directly qualified to play an eight-team main round.

India had sent an Under-20 side in the last edition in Bangladesh in April 2006 and lost to Nepal in the quarter-finals.

Tajikistan had won the 2006 edition beating Sri Lanka 4-0 in the final.

2008 AFC Challenge Cup seedings: 1. DPR Korea; 2. Turkmenistan 3; India 4; Myanmmar; 5. Tajikistan; 6; Sri Lanka; 7. Nepal; 8. Kyrgyzstan 9. Palestine; 10. Chinese Taipei; 11. Bangladesh; 12. Brunei; 13. Pakistan; 14. Cambodia; 15. Philippines; 16. Afghanistan; 17. Bhutan; 18. Macau; 19. Guam; 20. Laos UNI PDS AB KN1611

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