Picture Courtesy: AFC
KATHMANDU, Oct 20: Nepal is drawn against defending champion DPR Korea and Sri Lanka for the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 in the group-D. Winners of the play-off match between Bhutan and Afghanistan will join the group-D.
Nepal had met North Korea only once in the last edition of the tournament and lost 1-0.
However, Nepal and Sri Lanka had three previous meetings in the tournament. Nepal had defeated Sri Lanka 3-0 in 2008 but had lost in the semifinal of the first edition in a tiebreaker.
Their group stage meeting in the first edition had also ended in a draw. Nepal remains undefeated against Bhutan and Afghanistan till date.
The semifinal berth in the first edition is the highest achievement for Nepal in the history of AFC Challenge Cup. Nepal had played 12 matches in the last three editions, where they had won five, drawn three and lost four matches.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has published the group stage draw on Wednesday at the AFC headquarter in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has also been claiming for hosting the group stage.
According to official website of AFC, the eight lowest-ranked teams out of 20, which entered the fray, will play off on a home-and-away basis and the four winners will qualify for the 16-team group phase. Bhutan will meet Afghanistan, the Philippines will take on Mongolia, Chinese Taipei will face Laos, and Cambodia will lock horns with Macau on February 9 and 16, 2011.
India, who won the 2008 edition of the competition, are placed in Group B alongside Turkmenistan, Pakistan and the winner of playoff 3.
Bangladesh will play Palestine, Myanmar and the winner of playoff 2 in Group A while Group C comprise of Tajikistan, Maldives, winner of playoff 4 and Kyrgyzstan.
The group stage will be played between March 20 to 31, 2011, and the hosts will be announced later.
Playoffs (February 9 and 16, 2011)
Playoff 1: Bhutan Vs Afghanistan
Playoff 2: Philippines Vs Mongolia
Playoff 3: Chinese Taipei Vs Laos
Playoff 4: Cambodia Vs Macau
GROUP STAGE (March 20-31, 2011)
Group A: Myanmar, Palestine, Bangladesh, winner of playoff 2
Group B: Turkmenistan, India, winner of playoff 3, Pakistan
Group C: Tajikistan, Maldives, winner of playoff 4, Kyrgyzstan
Group D: DPR Korea, winner of playoff 1, Nepal, Sri Lanka