The eight-team tournament will be held in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4. Besides hosts India, Lebanon, Kuwait and Pakistan, the other four participating countries are Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives
Representational Image (Pic: Istock)
Pakistan has confirmed its participation in the South Asian Football Federation Championships in Bengaluru in June-July as the AIFF gave the go-ahead to players of the neighbouring country travelling to India. The international tournament will also see the participation of Lebanon and Kuwait as the SAFF executive committee in March decided to feature teams from outside the south Asian region with a view to make the championship more competitive.
"We don't see any problem in the coming of players from Pakistan to India to participate in the SAFF Championships," All Indian Football Federation secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran told PTI.
When asked if there could be any problem with the issue of granting visas to the Pakistani players in view of the political tension between the two countries, he said, "I think the Indian bridge team recently took part in a regional tournament in Pakistan and so we don't expect any issue on their (Pakistan's) participation."
The eight-team tournament will be held in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4. Besides hosts India, Lebanon, Kuwait and Pakistan, the other four participating countries are Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Maldives. Sri Lanka is not taking part as it is serving suspension from world governing body FIFA, while Afghanistan has left SAFF to join Central Asian Football Federation a few years back.
Pakistan failed to feature in two tournaments out of the 13 editions held so far since 1993. The Pakistan Football Federation could not send its team in the 2015 edition held in India due to internal issues. The country missed the 2021 edition as it was serving a suspension from FIFA. The suspension was lifted last year.
Prabhakaran also said that all the participating countries, including Kuwait and Lebanon, will send their best national teams.
"Yes, Lebanon and Kuwait, as well as all other participating countries, will send their first national teams," said Prabhakaran who recently became a member of Asian Football Confederation executive committee as a representative of the SAFF.
India has won the regional tournament a record eight times. Defending champions Maldives have won the title twice while Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka lifted the trophy once each. Meanwhile, the draw of the tournament will be held here on Wednesday.
(With PTI inputs)