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Qatar take on Maldives in Asian under-22 qualifier
(Gulf-times): The qualifiers in Groups A, B, C, F and G of the AFC U-22 Championship 2013 will start today across the continent at various venues, with Qatar taking on Maldives in Melaka, Malaysia.
Qatar are clubbed with Bahrain, Iran, Tajikistan, Kuwait and Maldives in Group C. All other teams in the group also see action today with Iran playing Kuwait and Tajikistan meeting Bahrain.
A total of 41 AFC member associations are participating in the qualifiers of the first edition of the championship. The finals are scheduled to be held in January, 2014. The Group D qualifiers kicked off last week in Nepalese capital Kathmandu while the Group E qualifiers will take place in Indonesia next month.
UAE, Iraq, Turkmenistan, India and Lebanon will travel to Oman for the Group A action which starts with matches between hosts Oman and UAE after India take on Lebanon and Iraq meet Turkmenistan earlier.
Saudi Arabia will host Group B which will feature Syria, Pakistan, Palestine, Kyrgyzstan and Sri Lanka with the hosts scheduled to meet Pakistan on that day which will also feature matches between Palestine and Sri Lanka as well as Syria and Kyrgyzstan.
Thailand will host Group F consisting of DPR Korea, China, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia and the hosts, who will take on DPR Korea on June 23. Myanmar are the Group G hosts featuring Korea Republic, Vietnam, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines.
The U-22 competition will replace the Olympic Football Tournament Asian Qualifiers and as the second biggest national team competition after the AFC Asian Cup, it is expected to attract a lot of attention from sponsors, fans, media and increase the overall value of AFC Competitions.
The finals of the 2013 edition will be played on January 2014 with Oman and Thailand showing interests to host the competition.The AFC has recently conducted inspection visits to both these countries as the AFC Competitions Committee meeting in July is expected to give the final verdict on the hosts. The hosts will be awarded an automatic berth.