While India and Nepal play friendly matches, some countries travel to Qatar …
The SAFF Championship in 2021 will be held in the Maldives from 1 to 16 October. This is the 13th edition of the biennial international championship for men’s football. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tournament was postponed from 2020 to September 2021, which was rescheduled to October, after Bangladesh no longer hosted it.
India are the record champions in the SAFF championship as they have won it eight times. In this issue, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and host for the Maldives will join the Blue Tigers. However, Bhutan has refused to participate due to travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while the Pakistani FA has been suspended by FIFA since 7 April 2021 due to third-party interference.
India start their SAFF championship campaign against neighboring Bangladesh on October 4th. The final of the competition will feature the first two teams after the initial round format and will be played on October 16, 2021.
How are the SAFF countries preparing for the championship?
India are currently in Nepal to play two friendly matches. In the first game, the hosts are tied at 1-1 and the second game is played on September 5th. in Kolkata.
The players of the Indian team will join their respective ISL (Indian Super League) club champions after their return from Nepal and fly to the Maldives before the tournament starts.
The Bangladesh national team traveled to Bishkek to play a Three Nation series, including hosts Kyrgyzstan and Palestine. Their first match is on September 5 against Palestine, followed by the match against Kyrgyzstan on September 7. They will also play a friendly match against the U23 team from Kyrgyzstan on 9 September.
Bangladesh team for the Tri-Nation series:
Goalkeepers: Anisur Rahaman, Mitul Marma, Shahidul Alam
Defenders: Bishwanath Ghosh, Topu Barman, Yeasin Arafat, Rezaul Karim, Mehedi Hasan, Atikuzzaman, Tariq Kazi, Rahmat Mia, Riyadul Hasan.
Midfielders: Jamal Bhuiyan, Rakib Hossain, Tahmid Islam, Mashuk Mia Johnny, Sohel Rana, Saad Uddin.
Forwards: Biplu Ahmed, Mohammad Ibrahim, Rahbar Wahed Khan, Mahbubur Rahman, Matin Mia.
The Maldives has already started training in Male from August 26 under interim coach Ali Suzain. He is assisted by Ismail Mahfooz. They play no friendly in this international window. However, they will travel to Qatar before the SAFF Cup for a preparatory camp. The FA of the Maldives is also trying to play some friendly matches against the local Qatari team.
The national team of Nepal is currently hosting India for two friendly matches in Kathmandu. In the first game, they drew 1-1. After the second match on September 5, they fly to Doha, Qatar, for a training camp on September 10. 25 players fly to the capital and come directly to Male, the Maldives, for the SAFF Cup on 27 September.
The Nepal team facing India is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Kiran Kumar Limbu, Deep Karki, Bishal Shrestha, Bikesh Kuthu
Defenders: Ananta Tamang, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Gautam Shrestha, Rohit Chand, Suman Aryal, Rajan Gurung, Kamal Thapa
Midfielders: Ayush Ghalan, Bishal Rai, Nitin Thapa, Pujan Uperkoti, Santosh Tamang, Sujal Shrestha, Sunil Bal, Suraj Jeu Thakuri, Tej Tamang
Forwards: Aashish Lama, Anjan Bista, Manish Dangi, Nawayug Shrestha, Suman Lama
The Sri Lankan football team does not play friendly matches in this international window, but Football Sri Lanka has arranged for a 16-day training camp in Doha, Qatar, to be prepared for the SAFF Cup. The 27-member team, along with 11 coaches, will leave for Doha on September 8. Like Nepal, they fly directly to the Maldives.
The Sri Lanka team for the SAFF Championship is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Sujan Perera, Ruwan Arunasiri, Dhanushka Rajapaksha, Kaveesh Fernando, Nuwan Gimhana.
Defenders: Harsha Fernando, Roshan Appuhamy, Chamod Dilshan, Charitha Rathnayake, Duckson Puslas, Chathuranga Madushan, Asikur Rahuman, Abdul Basith.
Midfielders: Marvin Hamilton, Chalana Chameera, Jude Supan, Mohamed Musthaq, Mohamed Fazal, Mohamed Shifan, Aman Faizer, Afeel Mohamed.
Forwards: Kavindu Ishan, Dillon De Silva, Waseem Razeek, Mohamed Aakib, Mohamed Hasmeer, Supun Danajaya, Rifkhan Mohamed, Asela Madushan.
Coach: Amir Alagic.