Indian football team fails to qualify for AFC Challenge Cup

India failed to qualify for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup on Tuesday after they were pipped by Bangladesh and Turkemenistan for a spot in the the continent’s second tier tournament meant for emerging football nations.

India, the 2008 champions, had finished second behind Myanmar in Group A qualifying round of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup earlier this month and their fate had remained hanging on the results of other groups.

Wim Koevermans’ men were edged out by Bangladesh and Turkemenistan on goal difference after all the three sides finished second in their respective groups.

Turkemistan and Bangladesh had goal differences of plus nine and plus five respectively and they made it to the final round of 2014 AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives as two best second-placed teams.

India could only manage a goal difference of plus four. They had beaten Chinese Taipei and Guam but had lost 0-1 to hosts Myanmar at Yangon earlier this month.

The qualifying round of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup was divided into five groups and each group matches were played in a centralised venue. The five group toppers and two best second-place teams will join hosts Maldives in the final round next year.

Under tournament rules, the second-place team will be decided first by the number of points, followed by the goal difference.

India took part in the 2011 Asian Cup in Doha, Qatar, on the basis of winning the 2018 AFC Challenge Cup at home. It will be a huge setback for the country which is aiming to raise its football profile as it failed to play even in the second tier competition, not to speak of the top tier.

India had also done miserably in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup and now it has failed to even qualify for the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. The winners of 2012 and 2014 AFC Challenge Cup would be given automatic berths in the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.

Now, India has no chance to play in the 2015 Asian Cup as its low FIFA ranking among Asian countries also meant that it cannot play in the qualifying round which has started earlier this month.

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