DUSHANBE, July 26, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- On Sunday July 27, Tajik national soccer team is leaving for Haidarabad, India to participate in the final round of the Challenge Cup of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

As it had been reported earlier, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on June 9 completed the draw for the AFC Challenge Cup 2008 final round in Haidarabad.  

Eight teams were drawn into two groups.  Tajikistan was seeded in one group with Afghanistan, India (hosts) and Turkmenistan.  Korea DPR, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri-Lanka are playing in Group B.      

The 2008 AFC Challenge Cup football tournament is hosted by India from July 30 to August 10, 2008.  Chinese Taipei was the designated host, but could not guarantee it would meet the AFC’s standards for hosting the tournament.  The winners of the 2008 and 2010 competitions will qualify for the Asian Cup 2011.  This competition is exclusive to the lower ranking Asian nations.  However, India and Bangladesh have again been invited for the 2008 tournament from the middle tier of nations, along with North Korea and Laos.

Tajik soccer players will ply their first game with Turkmenistan on July 30.  The second game with hosts is scheduled for August 1, and on August 3, Tajik team will compete with Afghanistan.   

The AFC Challenge Cup is a national football competition for emerging countries (those in the lowest (of three) categories as designed by the AFC president) that are members of the AFC.  The first tournament was held in 2006 in Bangladesh.