Wednesday July 17, 2024

Pakistan, India drawn in same SAFF Championship group

By Our Correspondent
May 18, 2023

KARACHI: Arch-rivals Pakistan and India were on Wednesday bracketed in the samea group of the SAFF Championship to be held in the south Indian city of Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4.

In 2013 edition also both Pakistan and India were drawn in the same group. India had won that league show against the Green-shirts 1-0.

Pakistan will be returning to the region’s biggest football event after having lost the semi-final to India 3-1 in the 2018 Dhaka edition. The Green-shirts missed the 2015 and 2021 editions due to various reasons.

As per draws, in Group A Pakistan, India, Kuwait (invitee) and Nepal have been adjusted while Group B carries Bangladesh, Bhutan, Lebanon (invitee) and Maldives.

Sri Lanka are not featuring in the event as they are serving international suspension. Both Pakistan and India will meet in their opening Group A show on June 21 at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.

The opening show of the eight-nation event will be conducted between Nepal and Kuwait on e same day before Pak-India showdown which is expected to attract a huge crowd.

Lebanon are the highest-ranked team at 99. India stand at 101, Kuwait 143, Maldives 154, Nepal 174, Bhutan 185, Bangladesh 192 and Pakistan 195.

Pakistan head coach Shehzad Anwar was hopeful that his team would do well in the event. “Although we are in the development stage but we will give tough time to the oppositions,” Shehzad told The News from Quetta on Wednesday.

“It’s a tough group. We have recently played against Nepal in Nepal and I hope we will qualify for the semi-finals,” Shehzad said.

He said that the camp for the SAFF Championship will begin by May 25 at Lahore. “We are trying to hold the camp by May 25,” Shehzad said.

Shehzad these days is in Quetta, serving as PAF coach at the 34th National Games football event. Pakistan may face issues in securing India’s visas but All India Football Federation (AIFF) is hopeful that Pakistan will get visas for the biennial event.

The AIFF chief Kalyan Chaubey has said that Pakistan has confirmed its participation in the tournament which is why they are in the draws. He said that all nations of South Asian have the right to play in this event.

India have won this event for record eight times. Maldives have won it two times. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have won it once each. Afghanistan these days play in the Central Asian region.

Pakistan have so far not been impressive in the event, having just finished once with a bronze in the 1997 Nepal’s edition.

Since 2015 Pakistan has been facing tough time in football with the nation mostly missing international events during the last seven or so because of internal wrangling and elections issues. Still there is a huge impediment in the way of electoral process.