Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], June 20 (ANI): Indian men’s football team will start their title defence of the SAFF Championship 2023 campaign with a game against Pakistan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
The 14th edition of the SAFF Championship has been divided into two groups. India lies in Group A with, Kuwait, Nepal and Pakistan. Group B comprises Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh, as per Olympics.com. Sunil Chhetri-led India are the highest-ranked team in Group A. They are 101st in the FIFA rankings. Kuwait are world No. 143 followed by Nepal at 174. Nepal were the runners-up in the last edition in 2021. Pakistan are ranked lowest at 195th.
The group stage will be played in a single round-robin format. The top two teams from each group will then play semi-final on July 1. The final is scheduled for July 4.
India have won SAFF Championship eight times and are the most successful team in the tournament. The Maldives are two-time champions while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka have won the title once each.
The Igor Stimac-managed Indian national football team recently won the Intercontinental Cup defeating Lebanon in the final. India are currently on a roll with six clean sheets in a row. The last time India went six games without conceding was way back in 1951-52.