Saturday, August 14, 2010

AFC sets date for Olympic, World Cup, and Challenge Cup Qualifying

Palestine's U-23 team will return to competitive action in February the AFC has announced as one of 34 teams vying for 3-4 tickets to London 2012. The first round, a home and away playoff, will take place on February 23rd, 2011 and March 9, 2011. If Palestine emerges victorious, they will play another home and away play-off alongside the 13 highest ranked teams in June, this will be followed by the final round of qualifying were the twelve teams will be placed in three groups of four. Winners will advance directly and second place teams will fight it out for the half-spot.

The Women's Olympic Team already know their opponents for the Olympic tournament drawn in an extremely tough group alongside: Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, and Iran.

As for the full national team they will first participate in Challenge Cup Qualifying from March 8th-19th, 2011. No team will receive a bye to the finals, if there are more than 16 teams there will be a home and away pre-qualifying round. The 16 teams will be divided into four groups of 4 with the winner and runner-up advancing to the tournament proper to be held from March 3rd-18th, 2012.

Qualifying for Brazil 2014 will kick off with a two-legged play-off on June 29th, 2011 with the return leg on July 3rd, 2011 (the second round will be played later that month July 23rd and 28th). The qualifying format is identical to that of 2010 World Cup Qualifying. No news on the draw yet as the AFC has yet to send out invitations to the FAs to participate. Palestine's ranking could go a long way in deciding what sort of matches they get in the first and second round. Last time around Palestine were ranked 18th continentally and were given one of the hardest opponents in Pot B- Singapore. This time around, barring a massive change in the rankings (13 spots continentally/33 globally) we'll be placed in pot B and will have to hope to avoid the likes of Iraq and Saudi Arabia.