Afghanistan pulls back from Challenge Cup

Kathmandu March 24-
Afghanistan has pulled out of the Group 'C' qualifiers of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup scheduled to begin in Kathmandu from March 26 citing personal reasons on Monday.

"They had their own personal reasons for pulling out of the tournament but the game will go on with some minor changes in the tournament schedule", said ANFA President Thapa. The group described by the AFC as the group of death will now have only three teams in fray including Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal, cutting the total six games into just three games.

According to the new schedule, Nepal will play their first game against Palestine on the opening day followed by a game against Kyrgyzstan two days later while the last game will see two visiting teams in action on March 30. "We have also requested the AFC to shift the kick off time to 3 PM from 1.30. The AFC will give the verdict on Wednesday," said ANFA Vice President Kumar Thapa.

The withdrawal of Afghanistan has affected the other participants as well. As per the rules, the best runner-up from amongst all the teams will join the group winners in the main round of eight teams. Afghanistan, ranked 184th in the FIFA ranking have already participated in two previous editions (2006, 2008) but have been eliminated from the first round in both the occasions.

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