Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Taiwan loses right to host AFC Challenge

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES, BANGKOK

Thailand has replaced Taiwan as host of next year's AFC Challenge Cup, the winners of which are guaranteed a place at the 2011 Asian Cup finals in Qatar, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said yesterday.

Thailand was given the nod because Taiwan could not guarantee it would meet the AFC's standards for hosting the 16-team tournament, contested by Asia's lowest-ranked countries.

The winners of the next two Challenge Cups will join hosts Qatar, defending champions Iraq, losing finalists Saudi Arabia and third-placed South Korea in the 2011 Asian Cup finals.

Tajikistan won the inaugural Challenge Cup last year, which was hosted by Bangladesh.

A Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) official surnamed Liu told the Taipei Times that the AFC inspected the Taoyuan Stadium and complained that the field was not wide enough. The AFC then suggested that part of the running track around the field be incorporated into the soccer pitch.

The CTFA responded that, since the Taoyuan County Government is in charge of managing the stadium, the CTFA could not guarantee that the changes would be made.

The CTFA official said he did not know whether the CTFA had made any attempt to discuss the AFC's suggestion with the Taoyuan County Government.

He also refused to refer reporters to anyone in the Taoyuan County Government.

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