Palestine pulls out of AFC Challenge Cup

Lalitpur, May 14:

Palestine have withdrawn for the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup qualifying round raising greater hopes for Nepal to make it to the eight-team finals to be held in Hyderabad.

ANFA president Ganesh Thapa confirmed the report at the team’s farewell ceremony here today. Palestine’s withdrawal means that Group ‘D’ now comprises Nepal, Macau and hosts Cambodia. The Group ‘D’ qualifiers is slated to begin from May 24.

Nepal will open their campaign on May 24 against Macau at the Army Stadium before taking on the hosts two days later at the National Olympic Stadium. Top teams from each of the four groups will qualify for the finals to be held in Hyderabad from July 30 to August 10.

Runners up of the first edition Sri Lanka have already made it to the finals from Group ‘A’ along with Afghanistan from Group ‘C’. Group ‘B’ comprises of Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Tajikistan and Philippines.

Korea, Turkmenistan, hosts India and Myanmar have direct entry to the finals. The winner of the 2008 and 2010 editions of the Challenge Cup qualify automatically for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Doha.