By India Today Sports Desk: India will begin their SAFF Championship campaign in Bengaluru against Pakistan in a Group A contest. The Sree Kanteerava Stadium will host the match between the neighbors amid increased interest for the tie.
India are heavy favourites to start their campaign with a win over Pakistan. The Blue Tigers are ranked 94 places above Pakistan in the FIFA charts and they will be looking to live up to the billing. India are heading into the SAFF Championship after having won the Intercontinental Cup. The Blue Tigers beat Lebanon 2-0 in the final of the Intercontinental Cup on Sunday in Bhubaneshwar.
India, the defending champions, have a proud record to maintain as the 8-time champions of SAFF Cup. India have won the tournament the previous three times it was held at home.
On the other hand, Pakistan are heading into the contest after having lost all 3 matches in a 4-nation tournament in Maldives to Kenya, Djibouti and Mauritius.
Pakistan's request to reschedule their Group A opener against India was denied by SAFF. There was a delay in the arrival of Pakistan players as there was a delay in processing their visas.
WHEN AND WHERE WILL INDIA vs PAKISTAN SAFF CHAMPIONSHIP BE HELD?
India vs Pakistan match will be played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru from 7:30 pm IST on Wednesday, June 21.
HOW CAN I WATCH THE INDIA VS PAKISTAN SAFF CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH LIVE?
FanCode will provide live streaming of the match while DD Sports will offer the live telecast of the match in India.
However, India head coach Igor Stimac is wary of the firepower in the Pakistan squad, saying India won't take their opposition lightly in their SAFF Championship opener.
"Let's not speak about the rankings here. Pakistan were better than Kenya (in their 0-1 loss) away from home. They created better chances and were more aggressive. Yes, they defended deep, but they have six to seven players who were developed abroad," coach Stimac said ahead of the big match.
A victory in the SAFF tournament will also help India gain some valuable FIFA Ranking points and go up in the ladder.
Preparing for the AFC Asian Cup, India coach Igor Stimac was aware of the road ahead for the team.
INDIA SQUAD FOR SAFF CHAMPIONSHIP
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Phurba Lachenpa Tempa. Defenders: Subhasish Bose, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Mehtab Singh and Rahul Bheke.
Midfielders: Liston Colaco, Ashique Kuruniyan, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rohit Kumar, Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Jeakson Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Lalengmawia Ralte, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Rowllin Borges, Nandha Kumar.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Rahim Ali, Ishan Pandita.
India have been grouped alongside Nepal, Kuwait and Pakistan while Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh are in Group B of SAFF Championship 2023.