Hosts of the SAFF Championship 2023, India have been drawn in Group A of the competition, along with Kuwait, Nepal, and Pakistan, in the Official Draw Ceremony that was conducted in New Delhi, on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. All India Football Federation President Mr Kalyan Chaubey, South Asian Football Federation General Secretary Mr Anwarul Huq, and AIFF Secretary General Dr Shaji Prabhakaran were present to conduct the draw ceremony.
Lebanon and Kuwait are the two teams from outside the South Asian region, who are participating by dint of special invitation. Eight teams are set to fight it out for South Asian supremacy in Bengaluru, as the tournament is set to get underway on June 21, with the final on July 4 in Bengaluru.
India, being the hosts, were automatically placed atop Group A, with Kuwait, Nepal, and Pakistan drawn into the group later. Over in Group B, Lebanon, being the highest-ranked team, were automatically placed at the top of the group, with the Maldives, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
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Mr Chaubey, at the start of the draw ceremony, said, “I would like to convey my deep gratitude to the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) for acquiescing our request of inviting more countries from outside the South Asian region to participate in this Championship. I feel that the addition of Kuwait and Lebanon will help make the Championship more competitive, and I am deeply thankful to the SAFF for taking our recommendation into consideration.”
“Our effort remains to play around 20-25 quality matches, and we have already seen that process begin with the Hero Tri-Nation Cup in Imphal. Now, our team will also play the Hero Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar, followed by the SAFF Championship in Bengaluru. They are also set to play the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia and the King’s Cup in Thailand later this year,” he added.
“We are very happy to host the SAFF tournament, and as such, we need to behave and act as the favourites to win it. We also welcome Kuwait and Lebanon as guests, participants and hope they will enjoy their stay in India and tournament itself. Playing against them should help us in our preparations for the AFC Cup and our boys are really excited, and determined to do well,” said Indian head coach Igor Stimac.
Fixtures: SAFF Championship 2023
Kuwait vs Nepal, 3.30 pm IST.
India vs Pakistan, 7.30 pm IST.
Lebanon vs Bangladesh, 3.30 pm IST.
Maldives vs Bhutan, 7.30 pm IST.
Pakistan vs Kuwait, 3.30 pm IST.
Nepal vs India, 7.30 pm IST.
Bangladesh vs Maldives, 3.30 pm IST.
Bhutan vs Lebanon, 7.30 pm IST.
Nepal vs Pakistan, 3.30 pm IST.
India vs Kuwait, 7.30 pm IST.
Lebanon vs Maldives, 3.30 pm IST.
Bhutan vs Bangladesh, 7.30 pm IST.
Group A Champions vs Group B Runners-ups, TBC.
Group B Champions vs Group A Runners-ups, TBC.
July 4: Semi-final 1 Winners vs Semi-final 2 Winners, TBC.
Note: This article is created from an AIIF Media Release.