DUSHANBE, August 4, 2008, Asia-Plus  -- Tajikistan’s soccer players have beat Afghan national soccer team and qualified for semi-final of the 2008 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup, 

Tajikistan’s victory 4-0 against Afghanistan on August 3 sent the defending champions through to the semi-final as runners-up behind India, who beat Turkmenistan 2-1 in the group’s other match.

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 have played 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 played their first game with Turkmenistan on July 30 -- 0-0.  The second game with hosts that was held on August 1 also ended in a draw – 1-1.  

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.