KATHMANDU, Sept 8: Nepal has been drawn in Group A in the AFC Solidarity Cup, a newly-launched tournament by Asian Football Confederation (AFC), to be held in Malaysia from November 2 to 15. The venue is yet to be confirmed.
The tournament will feature either eight or nine lowest-ranking teams of Asia. Six national teams -- Nepal, Sri Lanka, Macau, Mongolia, Pakistan, Brunei -- who were eliminated from the 2018 FIFA World Cup and round one of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification will be joined by two or three other teams yet to be eliminated from the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Play-off 2.
Nepal is pooled along with Pakistan and Brunei. Additional two teams are likely to join the group which will be finalized on October 11. One among Timor Leste or Chinese Taipei and among Bhutan or Bangladesh will join the group.
Bhutan, however, has not shown interest to take part in the competition and is facing Bangladesh in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Play-off. That means if Bangladesh progresses to the next round of the play-off, Solidarity Cup will see just eight countries. But if the result is otherwise, the tournament will see nine teams.
This tournament is taken as the replacement of AFC Challenge Cup which was scrapped last year.
Similarly, Group B consist of Sri Lanka, Macau, Mongolia and Maldives or Laos.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa termend the event as an exciting tournament for developing teams of Asia.
“The AFC Solidarity Cup is an exciting opportunity of developing national team football in Asia. The AFC is united behind this new concept - the AFC Solidarity Cup - as we look to deliver the objective of our Vision and Mission which is to make Asian teams stronger on the global stage,” said Khalifa.