Nepal to host Asian qualifiers

KATHMANDU, Jan 28 - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Wednesday has confirmed Nepal as the hosts for two qualifying rounds -- AFC Challenge Cup 2010 and AFC President's Cup 2009 - while releasing the draws for both the championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Releasing the draw for the AFC Challenge Cup 2010 qualifiers, the AFC pitted Nepal, the hosts for Group 'C' along with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Palestine, describing the group as "the most interesting to watch" among the total three groups. The dates of the championship is yet to be announced.

With India, the current champions, Tajikistan and DPR Korea enjoying direct entry into the finals, the draw slotted 16 teams into four groups of four teams each. The Tajiks were runners-up in 2008 while DPR Korea finished third.

AFC received a total of 17 entries for the third edition of the competition, one team more than the required number. Therefore, the AFC Competitions Committee decided that the last two teams according to the FIFA rankings in the list would compete in a play off for qualification. Pairing the teams according to the FIFA rankings, AFC has pitted Macau against Mongolia in a two-legged play-off, the first of which will be held in Macau on March.7 2009. The return leg takes place in Mongolia seven day later with the winner joining the qualification battle.

The winners and runner-up of each group will advance to the eight-team finals (five qualifiers in total + three direct entrants).

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