Nepal and Sri Lanka await North Korea in Challenge Cup qualifiers

Nepal and Sri Lanka await North Korea in Challenge Cup qualifiers

North Korea will face Nepal and Sri Lanka in the qualifying stage for the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup as they seek to defend the trophy they won in February this year with a penalty shootout victory over Turkmenistan.

The Kuala Lumpur draw put the North Koreans into Group D along side 2010 tournament hosts Sri Lanka and Nepal, who finished second in their group and missed out on qualification for this year’s event on goals scored. The fourth team in the group will be either Afghanistan or Bhutan, who will face each other on a home and away basis in February 2011 to determine which side will progress to the qualifying stage.

The venues for the qualifiers have yet to be confirmed, but they are scheduled to take place from March 20th to 31st 2011, with all matches likely to take place within one of the four competing countries. The same system will be used across all four qualifying groups giving four host countries for qualification, with the top two sides from each group progressing to the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup finals tournament where the eight qualifiers will be invited to bid to host the event which will see the winners qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

North Korea defeated Kyrgyzstan, India and Myanmar on their way to the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup final where they defeated Turkmenistan 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. That victory secured their qualification for January’s 2011 Asian Cup tournament in Qatar where they have been grouped with Syria, Kuwait and India.

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