AFC Expands Asian Cup to 24 Teams

Kuala Lumpur, April 16 (QNA) – The Asian Football Confederation
Wednesday approved the proposal to increase the number of teams from
16 to 24 in AFC Asian Cup from the 2019 edition of the tournament.
The increase is to give opportunity for more Member Associations to
be part of Asia’s flagship competition, the AFC said today.

The Executive Committee which met under the chairmanship of AFC
President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, also decided to
remove AFC Challenge Cup from the list of AFC competitions.
The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, to be played in Maldives from May 19 to
30, will be the last edition of this competition.

The committee also ratified the AFC Competitions Committee’s
proposal to merge the preliminary qualification rounds for FIFA World
Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup.

Depending on the number of entries, the Member Associations will be
divided into eight groups in the preliminary stage. The eight group
winners and four second best teams among all the eight groups will
qualify for the FIFA World Cup final round of qualifiers and also the
AFC Asian Cup finals.

Presently, only ten teams enter the final round of FIFA World Cup
qualifiers.

The next best 24 teams from the preliminary qualification round (24
teams) will compete for the remaining slots in the AFC Asian Cup
finals in six groups of four teams each.

The final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup
qualifiers will be separated.

The committee also approved the proposal to rank the Member
Associations based on their national teams and clubs’ performance
over last four years in AFC competitions. (MORE)

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