The latest edition of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship is all set to get underway and the tournament will kick off on June 21, 2023. This time around, India are hosting the 14th edition of the SAFF Championships and all the matches will be held at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
The SAFF Championship is a prestigious competition in the South Asian football community. A total of eight teams – Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan, and hosts India – are taking part in the tournament.
Kuwait and Lebanon (two teams from the Middle East) are the only two sides from outside South Asia that are taking part in the competition because of a special invitation from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
It was announced on May 17, that the eight teams will be split into two groups of four sides each. The fixture list and schedule was also announced on that very day. As such, there will be a total of 12 group stage matches followed by three knockout matches. The final is expected to take place on July 4. The top two teams from each group will be able to book a spot for them in the knockout rounds of the competition.
India is the defending champion in the SAFF Championship and the side is also the most successful team in this tournament’s history with eight titles. They have won the SAFF Championships in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2021.
However, Lebanon are the highest ranked side in the FIFA World Rankings in this year’s competition. They are ranked 99th in the world and are just ahead of hosts India who occupy the 101st position. India are followed by Kuwait with a world ranking of 143 and Maldives who are ranked 154th. Nepal and Bhutan are next and they are ranked 174th and 185th respectively while Bangladesh and Pakistan round off the rankings with positions 192 and 195.
The division of the groups are as follows:
Group A: India (hosts), Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan
Group B: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Lebanon, Maldives
The group stage will be in the Round Robin Format where each team will play the other at least once. The top two teams will qualify for the knockout rounds.
The format of the knockouts are as follows:
Semi-Final 1 – Group A Winner vs Group B Runners Up
Semi-Final 2 – Group B Winner vs Group A Runners Up
The winners of the two semi-finals will then contest the final.
Where to watch SAFF Championship 2023 live in India?
The live streaming for Hero Intercontinental Cup 2023 will be available on Disney+ Hotstar app and website and Jio TV in India.
The broadcast of the Intercontinental Cup will be on the Star Sports Network TV channels in India.
SAFF Championship 2023 schedule and live match start times
As per Indian Standard Time (IST)
|June 21||Wednesday||Kuwait vs Nepal||3:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 21||Wednesday|
|June 21||Wednesday||India vs Pakistan||7:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 21||Wednesday|
|June 22||Thursday||Lebanon vs Bangladesh||3:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 22||Thursday|
|June 22||Thursday||Maldives vs Bhutan||7:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 22||Thursday|
|June 24||Saturday||Pakistan vs Kuwait||3:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 24||Saturday|
|June 24||Saturday||India vs Nepal||7:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 24||Saturday|
|June 25||Sunday||Bangladesh vs Maldives||3:30 PM||Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru||June 25||Sunday|
Team India national team squad for SAFF Championship 2023
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh.
Defenders: Subhasish Bose, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Mehtab Singh and Rahul Bheke.
Midfielders: Liston Colaco, Ashique Kuruniyan, Rohit Kumar, Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Lalengmawia Ralte, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rowllin Borges and Nandha Kumar.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali and Ishan Pandita.
Head Coach: Igor Stimac