Friday, February 18, 2011
Cambodia are through to the group stages of the AFC Challenge Cup. But only just. Macau gave them a real scare this week, pulling the tie back to 4-4 at full-time in the second leg and it was left to veteran marksman Sam El Nasa to carry Cambodia through with an extra-time goal. They lost the 2nd leg battle but won the war. I've heard some of the excuses for their poor showing - over-trained, poor pitch, cold temperatures - but Cambodia will have to step up to the plate if they are to put on a good showing in the group games. They'll join three other teams in Group C, which will be hosted by the Maldives in Male. The opposition will be in the form of hosts Maldives, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and the match dates will be 21, 23 and 25 March. Tajikistan will be a new face for Cambodia as they've played against the other two countries in the past. The other 3 qualifying groups of the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 have now been confirmed by Asian Football Confederation. Group A will be hosted by Myanmar in Yangon. The teams in this group are: Myanmar, Bangladesh, Palestine, and the winners of the pre-qualification match between Mongolia and the Philippines on 15 March (the Philippines won the first leg 2-0). The match days are 21, 23 and 25 March. Group B will be played in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the participating teams are 2008 champions India, Pakistan, Chinese Taipei and Turkmenistan. The match days are 21, 23 and 25 March. Group D will be played in Kathmandu, Nepal. The teams are: Nepal, 2010 champions DPR Korea, Sri Lanka, and the winners of the pre-qualification match between Bhutan and Afghanistan (23 and 25 March). The match days will be 7, 9 and 11 April.