BANGKOK, Jan 11 (Reuters) - India is being lined up to host this year’s Challenge Cup, the winners of which earn a place at the 2011 Asian Cup, the Asian Football Confederation said on Friday. The tournament, contested by Asia’s lowest-ranked countries, is set to take place from July 30 to Aug. 10, subject to an inspection of India’s facilities, an AFC official said.
Taiwan was originally due to stage the tournament, slated for March, but could not meet the AFC’s hosting requirements.
Thailand agreed to take over but later withdrew, saying it did not have enough time to prepare.
Of the 20 lowest-ranked Asian countries, the bottom 16 will be divided into four groups, the winners of which will progress to the Challenge Cup finals.
The four highest-ranked teams — North Korea, Turkmenistan, India and Myanmar — will receive byes.
The winners of the 2008 and 2010 Challenge Cups will join hosts Qatar, defending champions Iraq, losing finalists Saudi Arabia and third-placed South Korea in the 2011 Asian Cup finals.
1. North Korea, 2. Turkmenistan 3. India 4, Myanmar, 5. Tajikistan, 6, Sri Lanka, 7. Nepal, 8. Kyrgyzstan 9. Palestine, 10. Taiwan, 11. Bangladesh, 12. Brunei, 13. Pakistan, 14. Cambodia, 15. The Philippines, 16. Afghanistan, 17. Bhutan, 18. Macau, 19. Guam, 20. Laos (Reporting by Martin Petty)