The AFC has decided to revamp the confederation’s national team competitions with a host of changes to the showpiece event, the AFC Asian Cup.
Under the new format the tournament would change to 24 teams in the tournament proper instead of 16. The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, to be held in Maldives in May, will be the last edition of this competition.
The qualification rounds for FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers will also be merged for the preliminary round. Depending on the number of entries, the Member Associations will be divided into eight groups after preliminary stages. The eight group winners and four second best teams will qualify for the FIFA World Cup final round of qualifiers and also the AFC Asian Cup finals.
Presently, only 10 teams battle it out in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The second and third-placed teams from the preliminary qualification round (24 teams) will compete for the remaining slots in the AFC Asian Cup finals in six groups of four teams each.
The final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers will be separated.
Addressing the committee members at the AFC U-22 Championship, AFC President Shaikh SalmanEbrahim Al Khalifa urged the Member Associations to adhere to the changes that are proposed in the meeting.
“Competitions are the main products of AFC and I am happy that it is in good hands,” said the AFC President.
“We must market our product and generate income to sustain football across the continent.
“I am sure that the changes that happen will have a big impact in Asian football and will benefit our Member Associations,” he added.
The meeting was chaired by the AFC Competitions Committee chairman and the President of United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAEFA) Yousuf Al Serkal. All decisions of this committee need to be ratified by the AFC Executive Committee to take effect.