The 14th edition of the South Asian Football Federation Championship, SAFF Cup, is starting tomorrow in Bengaluru, India. India is the defending champion and starts the tournament as the firm favorite to win the title. The tournament highlights will be – India V Pakistan match. Historically, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka participate in the SAFF Cup but for the 14th edition after the sanction imposed on Sri Lanka, Kuwait, and Lebanon have also been invited to increase the number and competition in the tournament.
Visas Approved for Pakistan
Amidst the excitement of the India V Pakistan match, there were dark clouds on the of the Pakistani team in the tournament. The Pakistani team faced visa approval delays, raising concerns about their timely arrival in India. The reason remains unclear for the delay of the Pakistan team but according to the Pakistani media sources Pakistan had hoped to reach the host city on Sunday after competing in a four-nation tournament in Mauritius. Pakistan Football Federation had applied for visas at Indian Embassy in Mauritius. However, since the Mauration’s operations were closed over the weekend, their applications could only be processed on Monday.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) accused the country’s Sports Board of delaying the no-objection certificate (NOC) required for the team’s travel to India. The Sports Board, on the other hand, denied the allegations, stating that the Federation had not submitted the necessary documents on time. Pakistan applied for Indian visas only last week due to the delay in obtaining the NOC from their government.
Despite all the drama, fortunately, Visas got approved on Monday evening. The PFF Twitter handle confirmed the news by tweeting “See You Soon, India! The team is expected to arrive in Bangalore at 10 PM today.
Rumors of rescheduling Pakistan’s matches due to their late arrival were debunked by SAFF sources, by confirming there will be no change in schedule. India vs Pakistan game will go as planned on Wednesday at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium at 7.30 pm.
SAFF Cup 2023: All You Need to Know
All matches of the SAFF Cup will be hosted at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium. This edition features a total of eight participating teams, divided into two groups. Group A – India, Kuwait, Nepal, and Pakistan, while Group B – Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The tournament will be played from June 21st to July 4th, with a total of 15 games, including 12 league matches, two semi-finals, and one final.
India’s campaign begins on the opening day against Pakistan, followed by matches against Nepal on June 24th and Kuwait on June 27th. After winning Intercontinental Cup, the confidence of the team will be high for the SAFF Cup and Football fans can expect another trophy within a month from the Blue Tigers. India has previously won the SAFF Cup a total of eight times.
The match timings of the tournament are 3:30 and 7:30 PM. Fans can watch the SAFF Cup action on the Star Sports Network on television, whereas digitally on FanCode.
For the full schedule of the SAFF Cup, click on the link : https://saffederation.org/
High Hopes for Pakistan Cricket Team’s Arrival
ICC Cricket World Cup is scheduled for October-November in India; cricket fans eagerly await the release of the tournament schedule by the ICC. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has submitted the proposed schedule, but it is currently stuck due to concerns regarding the arrival of the Pakistan cricket team. Given the strained relations between the nations, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is either seeking NOC approval from their government or considering shifting their matches outside of India.
However, the arrival of the Pakistani football team in the SAFF Cup raises hopes for the smooth progression of the tournament, thus potentially facilitating the NOC approval for the Pakistan cricket team. If the Pakistan Football team faces no issues and the SAFF Cup concludes successfully, the PCB may have no choice but to send the Pakistani cricket team to India, allowing the ICC World Cup to proceed as per the proposed schedule.