The Indian men’s football team will play against Bangladesh in the opening fixture of their 2021 SAFF Cup campaign on October 4 at the National Stadium in Male, Maldives.
The SAFF Championship, a biennial international football tournament, is contested between teams from the Indian subcontinent. The tournament will be played from October 1 to October 16.
After their SAFF Cup opener against Bangladesh, India will take on Sri Lanka and Nepal before facing hosts Maldives in the final round-robin stage fixture in what will be a repeat of the last SAFF Cup final in 2018, where the Blue Tigers lost 1-2.
India, ranked 105 in the latest FIFA rankings, is the most successful team in the SAFF Cup having won the tournament seven times since its inception in 1993.
The competition will be played in a round-robin format, where each team faces the other sides once. Following the conclusion of the round-robin stage, the top two teams will compete in the final for the SAFF Cup trophy. The entire 2021 SAFF Cup will be played in Male, the capital city of Maldives.
The Indian men’s football team will use the SAFF Championship to prepare for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup third round qualifiers, which will be held in February 2022.
The Indian national team is currently in Kolkata for a 15-day camp. They will soon depart for Nepal, against whom the Blue Tigers will play two friendly matches on September 2 and 5.
Head coach Igor Stimac has named a 35-member squad for the Kolkata camp, which includes the uncapped quartet of Seriton Fernandes, Rahul KP, Asish Rai and Rahim Ali. The squad will be further trimmed down to 24 players prior to the friendly matches against Nepal.
SAFF Cup 2021 schedule, fixtures and dates for India
|October 4||Bangladesh vs India|
|October 7||India vs Sri Lanka|
|October 10||Nepal vs India|
|October 13||India vs Maldives|
Featured photo: AFP / DIBYANGSHU SARKAR