Football: Bengaluru to host 2023 SAFF Championship in June-July
Bengaluru, March 19 (IANS) Bengaluru will host the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship 2023 from June 21 to July 3, All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Kalyan Chaubey announced here on Sunday.
The 2023 SAFF Championship will be played from June 21 to July 3, with all member associations expected to fight it out for the top prize, it was announced here on Sunday.
This will be the 13th edition of the tournament, and India will be hosting it for the fourth time. Over the years, the Blue Tigers have asserted their dominance in the SAFF Championship, winning it eight times. The Maldives are the closest to India, having won the title twice.
The venue was announced at a press meet in here on Sunday.
AIFF Secretary General Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran was present on the occasion, along with AIFF Vice-President and Karnataka State Football Association President N.A Haris and Karnataka Olympic Association President Dr. K Govindaraj.
The tournament will see the teams divided into two groups and play round-robin matches in the group stage, with the top two teams from each group progressing to the semi-finals. The date for the draw will be announced later.
"It is an extremely happy occasion for me to announce to all of you that we would be hosting the SAFF Championship in Bengaluru in June/July this year," said Kalyan Chaubey.
"SAFF is a great opportunity for us to promote love and brotherhood between all the countries in the South Asian region, and I am sure that the players of each national team will do everything in their power to give a great account of their countries.
"I would like to welcome all the visiting teams with open arms, as we promote brotherhood across borders. Football is one of the most powerful ways to spread the message of love between people, and it is a moment of pride for us to be able to host all of them," he said.
A former India international, Chaubey has won the SAFF Championship on two occasions with the Blue Tigers -- 1999 in Goa, and 2005 in Karachi.
"I've myself won the SAFF Championship on two occasions, and I can tell you from a player's perspective how special it is to lift that trophy, and get that medal," said Chaubey. "I am sure all of our players will be raring to go and play out there with big hearts."
Karnataka Olympic Association President Dr. K Govindaraj said, "I am delighted that Bengaluru is the venue for the SAFF Championship. Football is known as the 'beautiful game' all over the world and in India, this city is known for producing quality footballers for nearly a hundred years now. I know this international tournament will be a runaway success here."
AIFF Secretary General Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran said, "I am confident it is going to be a hugely successful tournament in Bengaluru. The city has a rich history of football and currently, with so many achievements of the game here, its status as a football city is rapidly growing. Karnataka, over the years, have produced some of the greatest players in Indian football history. They are also the latest winners of the National Football Championships.
Pointing out the Federation's commitment towards achieving the goals as per the Vision 2047 project, the Secretary-General said that the SAFF Championship also provides the national team with the opportunity to have more international exposure. Playing at home will give the footballers the much-needed extra motivation, Dr. Prabhakaran stressed.