|Thursday, 13 February 2003|
Sri Lanka plays in Asian Cup C'ship
by Leslie Fernando
Sri Lanka soccerites will dribble in the preliminary round matches of the Asian Cup Championship, China of 2004 in Chinese Taipei next month - March 23 to 30.
The draw for the Asian Cup Preliminary qualifying rounds was conducted in Beijing, with Asian Football Confederation delegates and Chinese Football officials joining arms to launch this tournament.
Twenty teams will play in seven groups. The top team in each of the seven groups will progress to the qualifying round to be played from August 19 to February 18, 2004 at different venues to be named by AFC.
The preliminary round groupings is as follows: Group 'A' - Myanmar, Brunei, Maldives. Group 'B' - Chinese Taipei, East Timor, Sri Lanka. Group 'C' - Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Nepal. Group 'D' - Hong Kong, Laos, Bangladesh; Group 'E' - Pakistan, Singapore, Macau; Group 'F' - Bhutan, Mongolia, Guam; Group 'G' - India, Korea DPR.
The two top teams in the seven qualifying round groups which will be held over six months from August - will progress to next year's finals where host China and reigning champions Japan make up the 16 teams.
The qualifying round groupings: (28 teams) Group 'A' - Uzbekistan, Thailand, Tajikistan, winner group 'D'. Group 'B' - Qatar, Kuwait, Palestine, winner 'E'. Group 'C' - Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, winner 'F'. Group 'D' - Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, winner 'G'. Group 'E' - Korea Republic, Oman, Vietnam, winner 'C'. Group 'F' - Iraq, Baharain, Malaysia, winner 'A. Group 'G' - UAE, Syria, Turkmenistan, winner 'B'.
Breaking new ground, China 2004 will feature 16 finalists making it the biggest edition of the Asian Cup since its inception in 1956. Beijing, Shandong, Chengdu and Jinan have been pencilled in as the four official host venues.
The local Chinese organising committee is convinced they will be able to cope with the hosting demands and Chinese Football Association is hoping to emulate the fine efforts of Korea Republic and Japan in hosting last year's World Cup.
Produced by Lake House