(MENAFN- Qatar News Agency) ala Lumpur April 16 - The Asian Football Confederation Wednesday approved the proposal to increase the number of teams from 16 to 24 in AFC Asian Cup from the 2019 edition of the tournament. The increase is to give opportunity for more Member Associations to be part of Asia's flagship competition the AFC said today. The Executive Committee which met under the chairmanship of AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa also decided to remove AFC Challenge Cup from the list of AFC competitions. The 2014 AFC Challenge Cup to be played in Maldives from May 19 to 30 will be the last edition of this competition. The committee also ratified the AFC Competitions Committee's proposal to merge the preliminary qualification rounds for FIFA World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup. Depending on the number of entries the Member Associations will be divided into eight groups in the preliminary stage. The eight group winners and four second best teams among all the eight groups will qualify for the FIFA World Cup final round of qualifiers and also the AFC Asian Cup finals. Presently only ten teams enter the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The next best 24 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. The committee also approved the proposal to rank the Member Associations based on their national teams and clubs' performance over last four years in AFC competitions. (MORE)
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