Male: The Maldives will take on Myanmar in the opening match of the AFC Challenge Cup 2014 after Wednesday’s draw for the eight-team tournament pitted the hosts and the two-time semi-finalists in a tough-looking Group A.
Joining the Maldives and Myanmar, who recently appointed three-time AFF Suzuki Cup-winner Radojko Avramovic as new head coach, are Palestine, semi-finalists at the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal, and Kyrgyzstan, the only team to advance from the qualifiers with a 100% record with Ghana-born striker David Tetteh scoring the only goal in three consecutive 1-0 victories.
Meanwhile, the Philippines, who like Myanmar have a new coach at the helm with the USA’s 1998 FIFA World Cup captain Thomas Dooley replacing Michael Weiss, the German who led the South East Asians to a third-place finish at the last AFC Challenge Cup.
The Philippines were consigned to the third-place play-off after losing 2-1 to Turkmenistan in the semi-finals of Nepal 2012 and the two will renew acquaintances in the Maldives after being pooled in Group B at the 2014 finals draw, which took place in the idyllic setting of the Paradise Island Resort.
Turkmenistan, runners-up in 2010 and 2012, and the Philippines are also grouped with 2013 SAFF Championship winners Afghanistan and AFC Challenge Cup debutants Laos, who booked their ticket to the Maldives as one of the two best runners-up from the qualifiers alongside Turkmenistan.
The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup will be held in the Maldives from May 19 to 30 with the winners of the fifth edition of the tournament for emerging nations also earning a berth at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
AFC Challenge Cup 2014 - Draw