2014 AFC Challenge Cup – Matchday 2 Review

Source: goalnepal.com
Source: goalnepal.com

 

Group A

Team Points GD
India 6 +5
Myanmar 4 +5
Chinese Taipei 1 -1
Guam 0 -9

This group maintained its We Global projected form until the 80th minute of the second match.  A late goal in a match involving Taipei benefits India yet again.

While India struggled to breakdown Guam’s defensive minded approach in the first half, it usually only takes 1 goal to get that parked bus rolling.  A Sunil Chettri strike 4 minutes after the restart did exactly that.  India would then cruise to a 4-0 win, which will prove to be very important in the goal differential tiebreaker.

Having seen India claim another 3 points on their home turf and seen their goal differential dry up, Myanmar knew they had to win in order to keep pace with leaders India.  Everything had been going to plan when a mental lapse in the 80th minute resulted in a Chinese Taipei equalizer.  Unable to respond in the last 10 minutes, Myanmar were reduced to a disappointing draw and now trail India by 2 points.

Upcoming Fixtures:

Chinese Taipei v Guam
Myanmar v India

Guam have seen themselves eliminated after conceding 9 goals and scoring zero in their first two games.  Taipei may not be able to win the group, but they surprisingly are still alive to claim second place.  They have to be licking their chops to face a Guam side that are taking on water faster than they can bail it out.  A win by 4 or 5 goals and Myanmar loss may be enough to leapfrog the hosts in the standings.  Realistically, however, 4 points will not be enough to see them progress to Maldives 2014 via the second place table.

Myanmar have themselves in quite a bit of trouble heading into the last match.  Although they currently lead the second place table on goal differential, they cannot afford to leave points on the pitch again Wednesday.  A win will secure passage to the finals, a tie will leave them sweating the entire month of March, and a loss would surely eliminate them.

Only 12 places separate India and Myanmar in the newest We Global standings.  We have Myanmar favored by the slimmest of margins due to home field advantage, but this game will be very close and will probably be decided by another late goal. 

 

Group C

Team Points GD
Afghanistan 6 +2
Laos 4 +2
Mongolia 1 -1
Sri Lanka 0 -3

Another day, another 1-0 win for Afghanistan here.  Afghanistan have shown that they are a very tough defensive nut to crack over the first two matches by posting consecutive clean sheets.  Babal Arezou proved to be the hero yet again by slotting home the winner in the 59th minute.  Afghanistan maintained their 2 point lead on hosts Laos, but have lost their slight advantage in goal differential.

Laos, coming off a tough draw against Mongolia, saw themselves in a really tough spot before taking the pitch against the Sri Lankans.  Down 5 points and 2 goals in differential, anything short of a win would have seen them eliminated.  It took a third of the match before they could finally break through, but Laos was able to put 4 past Sri Lanka en route to a 4-2 win.  Late strikes by Sri Lanka in the 74th and 81st minutes could be detrimental to Laos if they are unable to beat Afghanistan in matchday 3.

Upcoming Fixtures:

Sri Lanka v Mongolia
Laos v Afghanistan

Sri Lanka, like Guam in group A, have been eliminated after two goal-less matches.  They’ve proven to be a tougher test than their fellow island minnows, but still have nothing to show for it.  Mongolia could still claim second, but 4 points will not be enough to see them progress.

Laos v Afghanistan was the key fixture in our Challenge Cup preview, and that prediction was spot on.  Laos need a win to secure passage to Maldives 2014.  It doesn’t appear too likely at this juncture.  They have not been as strong as Afghanistan defensively through the first two games.  With that being said, they have been better on the offensive front.  Only needing a draw to advance, Afghanistan will most likely deploy a defensive strategy and try to steal a goal on the counter attack.  We Global is predicting a draw in this nervy encounter.

 

Group D

Team Points GD
Palestine 6 +10
Nepal 3 +4
Bangladesh 3 +1
Northern Mariana Islands 0 -15

Palestine have placed themselves in tremendous position for advancement to Maldives 2014 after a 9-0 thrashing of Northern Mariana Islands.  It didn’t take long for Palestine to secure all 3 points, scoring on 7 minutes into the match.  As stated in our matchday 1 review, the only thing in question was not the result, but the margin.  Palestine did themselves a tremendous favor by beating NMI by 3 more goals than Nepal.  This tilted the goal differential immensely towards Palestine’s favor.

Nepal knew they had to come away with points in their second match against Bangladesh after seeing their matchday 3 opponents collect all points.  However, Nepal left a crowd of 19,000 disappointed after slumping to a 2-0 loss.  A 28th minute penalty proved to be enough for Bangladesh and left Nepal in a world of hurt going into matchday 3.

Upcoming Fixtures:

Bangladesh v Northern Mariana Islands
Nepal v Palestine

We Global severely underestimated Bangladesh in our preview.  It’s very possible that someone in the Bangladesh camp got ahold of our analysis and used it as locker room motivation.  They have themselves in a very good spot going into matchday 3 against by far the worst team in the competition, NMI.

As with the previous two NMI games, a win appears guaranteed for Bangladesh, it’s only a matter of how much.  Six points and a goal differential of +7 or +8 would give them a surprise shot at advancing through the second place table.

Nepal had a golden opportunity against Bangladesh and let it all come crashing down.  They virtually eliminated themselves by not claiming any points.  They must win against Palestine and must win by 4 goals in order to pass Palestine for the group D crown.  This certainly won’t happen as Palestine are yet to concede.  63 spots separate Palestine and Nepal in our rankings.  It’s going to take a miracle to save Nepal at this juncture.

Palestine have all but locked up a spot at Maldives 2014, but mathematics say otherwise.  For all intents and purposes, they are the first team through, but will surely be looking to squash any upset by Nepal early.

 

We hope you have enjoyed the first two days of the Challenge Cup thus far.  Matchday 3 will not disappoint as there is still much to play for.  Look for another recap Wednesday morning as we dissect the group winners and make projections for the second place table.  Be sure to check out everything else We Global Football has to offer on the website. Follow us on Twitter @We_Global and on Facebook!

AFC Correspondent
-Matt

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