India's AFC Challenge Cup hopes dashed with Philippines win

The Blue Tigers were hoping to be one of the two best second-placed teams but a number of factors have resulted in the Indians having to sit out the tournament in Maldives...
In a blow that could prove detrimental for Indian football's progress, the team are ineligible to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup to be held at Maldives in 2014. Wim Koevermans' side finished second in their group behind Myanmar and were hoping to book their tickets for the 2014 tournament by means of the provision that the two best second-placed teams amongst all the groups would be granted safe passageway.

India finished with six points from three games with a goal difference of +4 in their qualifiers in early March. Bangladesh were ahead of the Indians amongst the two best second-placed teams with six points and a goal difference of +5. But this drastically changed after the Group E qualifiers where Turkmenistan have six points and a goal difference of +10.

This was partially due to the fact that Brunei withdrew from the qualifiers and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awarded every other team in the group a default 3-0 victory in games involving Brunei. This along with the 8-0 dismantling of Cambodia by Philippines has ensured that Turkmenistan and Bangladesh would be the two teams that would qualify for the event in 2014. The manner of India's elimination may seem harsh, but it cannot be denied that such a situation would not have arrived had the Blue Tigers got a win or draw against Myanmar.

For now, all that is left for the Indians to do is dust themselves off and attempt to work towards a better future for the game in the country.

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