nfm24 wrote:They won't improve Euro 2020, but the prospect of a qualifying place for one of them may improve the Nations League D. In other words, was the AFC Challenge Cup any "better" than it would have been without the direct qualifying place for the winner?
Tough one, it's certainly a carrot in that sense and you'd have to think that little bit of extra urgency = more interest.
I just think in the grand scheme of things 2/24 places at the Euros isn't going to be a massive difference for providing a bit of consistency across the Nations League (as I said before, something like Nations League Qualifying Play-Offs should be an all or nothing affair to avoid it looking like even more of a parachute for the bigger teams)
, the larger countries are already going to have the new 'Nations League Rankings as draw seedings' in their favour.
Also the gaps might be exaggerated a little, on their day it wouldn't take a miracle for the best of League D to keep a League B team (or even some League A sides) at least on their toes.
Another question that could be asked is does the incentive help the lower country's development? Again there's no clear-cut answer, but of the Asian teams that benefitted from this, jury's probably out on India, North Korea are a bit of an outlier, and Palestine, in the shortest amount of time, seem to be doing quite well at the moment. Notably all 3 have qualified or are on track to reaching to the next Asian Cup (admittedly an expanded one) on full unassisted merit.
Of the other medal-winning teams in the Solidarity Cup
since the carrot got dangled, Tajikistan are still in with a chance of the 2019 tournament going into the last round of matches, Philippines are almost there, Turkmenistan are qualified, and Maldives are out.