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KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Games organisers have discarded plans to redraw the men’s football tournament and have instead fit the United Arab Emirates and Palestine into two of the original groups, the Asian Football Confe­deration (AFC) has confirmed.

UAE and Palestine were omitted from the original draw earlier this month, leading the AFC to schedule a fresh draw to take place at it’s headquarters in Malaysia on Wednesday.

AFC secretary-general Windsor John said Games organisers failed to pass the names of UAE and Palestine to his body for the initial draw, even though both teams had attempted to register.

John said he was not sure what caused the problem, adding “it could be some computer glitch, it could be some communication breakdown”.

He stressed the AFC was not running the competition, and was conducting the draw on behalf of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Indonesian organising committee. Eris Herryanto, secretary-general of the Indonesian committee, told AFP the two sides had not properly followed the registration procedures.

“They did something wrong. For example, if they registered one person more than they should have had, that won’t go into the system,” he said.

The Korean Football Association (KFA) said earlier that the plan for a redraw had been scrapped following the AFC’s meeting with Games organisers and the Olympic Council of Asia.

The AFC confirmed the new draw with UAE being added to Group ‘E’ with Korea Republic, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia and Bahrain while Palestine joined Group ‘A’ with host nation Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos and Chinese Taipei.

With the addition of the two teams, two of the six groups will contain five sides, while the remaining four groups will each have four teams.The tournament, primarily contested by under-23 national team players with three overage players allowed in the squad, will be held from Aug. 14 to Sept. 1 but fixtures for the competition are yet to be announced.

The Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang are co-hosting the Games, which feature athletes from 45 countries and regions and officially open Aug. 18.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2018