Pakistan Confirms Participation in SAFF Championships; India Welcomes Their Arrival
Pakistan has officially announced its participation in the upcoming South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championships 2023 to be held in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has granted permission for Pakistani players to travel to India for the tournament. Alongside India, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Pakistan will compete, with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives completing the eight-team lineup. Sri Lanka will not take part due to its FIFA suspension, while Afghanistan left SAFF to join the Central Asian Football Federation a few years ago.
Pakistan’s involvement in SAFF Championships has been intermittent, missing two of the 13 editions held since 1993. Internal issues prevented the Pakistan Football Federation from sending a squad to the 2015 tournament in India. Furthermore, Pakistan was unable to participate in the 2021 edition due to its FIFA suspension, which was lifted last year.
The AIFF’s secretary general, Shaji Prabhakaran, has expressed optimism about hosting the Pakistani players in India, citing the recent participation of the Indian bridge team in a regional tournament held in Pakistan. He expects no issues regarding Pakistan’s involvement in the SAFF Championships.
Here is a list of SAFF Championship title winners with the number of times each country has won:
- India – 8 times
- Maldives – 2 times
- Bangladesh – 1 time
- Sri Lanka – 1 time
- Afghanistan – 1 time
India has been dominant in the SAFF Championships, securing victory in the regional event eight consecutive times. Maldives has won the title twice, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have each claimed the championship once. This will be India’s fourth time hosting the tournament.
The SAFF Championships promise exciting football action as teams from South Asia compete for regional glory. With Pakistan’s participation confirmed and the AIFF’s support, the stage is set for a thrilling and inclusive tournament in Bengaluru.