09 May 2014

2014 AFC Challenge Cup Primer

The final stage of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup begins on 19 May in the Indian Ocean republic of the Maldives and will culminate in the final to be played on 30 May. At stake is not only the title of Challenge Cup champion but also a seat in the 2015 Asian Cup hosted by Australia.

Eight qualified nations are initially divided into two groups where they will play each other for seats in the crossover semi-finals. The matches are to be played in the 13,000-capacity Galolhu National Stadium in the capital city of Malé as well as in the Hithadhoo Zone Stadium in Addu City.

Afghanistan arrive as the highest ranked nation as per the May 2014 FIFA Men’s Ranking Table. Laos and Myanmar, at the opposite end of the spectrum, are ranked lowest both at 173. The significance of the rankings will, in most probability, be sent flying out the window once competitions get underway.

GROUPINGS

Below is how the nations have been grouped along with their May 2014 FIFA rankings:

Group A
Kyrgyzstan (146)
Maldives (153)
Myanmaar (173)
Palestine (165)

Group B
Afghanistan (128)
Laos (173)
Philippines (140)
Turkmenistan (156)

RECENT MATCHES

To give readers a perspective on each team, here is a listing of each nation’s last three internationals as registered with FIFA:

Afghanistan
4 May 2014 Tajikistan 1 Afghanistan 0
13 April 2014 Afghanistan 0 Kyrgyzstan 0
11 September 2013 Afghanistan 2 India 0

Kyrgyzstan
13 April 2014 Kyrgyzstan 0 Afghanistan 0
19 November 2013 Kyrgyzstan 0 Azerbaijan 0
1 November 2013 Indonesia 4 Kyrgyzstan 0

Laos
16 November 2013 Laos 1 Guam 1
10 October 2013 Singapore 1 Laos 0
7 June 2013 Laos 2 Singapore 5

Maldives
29 November 2013 Seychelles 2 Maldives 1
27 November 2013 Seychelles 3 Maldives 1
9 September 2013 Maldives 0 India 1

Myanmar
4 June 2013 Myanmar 0 Singapore 2
6 March 2013 Myanmar 1 India 0
4 March 2013 Myanmar 1 Chinese Taipei 1

Palestine
25 December 2013 Qatar 1 Palestine 0
17 April 2013 Qatar 2 Palestine 0
21 March 2013 Kuwait 2 Palestine 1

Philippines
27 April 2014 Philippines 0 Malaysia 0
11 April 2014 Nepal 0 Philippines 3
5 March 2014 Azerbaijan 1 Philippines 0

Turkmenistan
26 March 2013 Philippines 1 Turkmenistan 0
22 March 2013 Cambodia 0 Turkmenistan 7
28 October 2012 Turkmenistan 4 Laos 2

THE PHILIPPINE AZKALS

On the face of things, the Philippines appear to have landed in the tougher group. Because the tournament has been rescheduled to occur after the European season, the Philippines will be practically at full strength.

Here is the Philippines’ roster registered for the tournament:

Goalkeepers: Patrick Deyto (Green Archers United), Neil Etheridge (Fulham FC), Roland Müller (Servette FC)

Defenders: Dennis Cagara (Lyngby Boldklub), Robert Gier (Ascot United), Juan Luis Guirado (Ceres-La Salle FC), Carlos de Murga (Ceres-La Salle FC), Anton del Rosario (Kaya FC), Simone Rota (Stallion FC), Daisuke Sato (Gobal FC)

Midfielders: Christopher Greatwich (Kaya FC), Jason de Jong (Global FC), Jerry Lucena (Esbjerg fB), Paul Mulders (SC Cambuur), Jose Elmer Porteria (Kaya FC), Patrick Reichelt (Ceres-La Salle FC), Stephan Schröck (Eintracht Frankfurt), Martin Steuble (FC Wil 1900), James Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks)

Strikers: Misagh Bahadoran (Global FC), Nathaniel Burkey (Kaya FC), Ruben Doctora (Stallion FC), Philip Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks)

TELEVISION COVERAGE

The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup will be aired by ABS-CBN on its Sports+Action Channel or what used to be Studio23.

Here is the coverage schedule for the group matches as announced by ABS-CBN Sports on Twitter:

Philippines vs Afghanistan on May 20, Tuesday LIVE at 11:30 pm
Turkmenistan vs Laos on May 21, Wednesday at 10pm
Philippines vs Laos on May 22,Thursday LIVE at 6:30 pm
Afghanistan vs Turkmenistan on May 23, Friday at 10pm
Philippines vs Turkmenistan on May 24,Saturday LIVE at 6:30 pm

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