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Football: AFC defend "consummate hosts" Maldives

Asia's football body has defended the Maldives as "consummate hosts" after they came in for criticism over logistical problems at the AFC Challenge Cup.

COLOMBO: Asia's football body has defended the Maldives as "consummate hosts" after they came in for criticism over logistical problems at the AFC Challenge Cup.

Afghanistan said the Indian Ocean state was a good holiday destination, but a poor place for a football tournament after several of their players were hurt in a bus crash.

Skipper Haroon Fakhrudin, one of those hurt in the accident, also said players from land-locked Afghanistan found it hard travelling around the archipelago by sea.

The Maldives has also been hit by a row over ticketing after brawls broke out among fans who, unable to secure seats, accused officials of selling tickets on the black market.

But Windsor John, deputy general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), said the Maldives' unique challenges were testament to the region's great diversity.

"The AFC encourages all member associations to host AFC tournaments or centralised qualifiers and each nation will present its own particular challenges when it comes to organisation and logistics," John told the AFC website.

"This should not necessarily be seen as a negative and more a reflection of the great diversity of environments and culture that makes Asia such a fascinating place.

"The Football Association of the Maldives has been the consummate hosts."

This week, the AFC warned the Maldives risked being suspended from international competition if the country's anti-corruption commission pursues a probe into the ticketing affair.

The Philippines will play Palestine in the final of the regional tournament on Friday, with the winner earning a place at next year's Asian Cup.

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