Indian football team lands in Maldives for SAFF Championship
Male, September 28, 2021
The Indian football team landed in the Maldives today for the SAFF Championship which kicks off from October 1 onwards.
The 23-member squad along with the support staff travelled from Bengaluru where they had assembled the previous day. Head Coach Igor Stimac has joined the squad directly in Maldives.
India begin their campaign with a match against Bangladesh on October 4.
“The boys are excited and we expect them to do well and go all the way through winning the tournament,” Stimac said. “For some of them it is going to be a bit more difficult to shine as their clubs still haven’t started the pre-season yet. But we are very confident that each one of them will give their best,” he added.
Talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri lauded the organising committee for putting in an “extraordinary effort”.
“It feels great to be here. It’s truly an extraordinary effort that has been put in. Given the current situation it’s extremely difficult to organise matches, leave aside an entire tournament. I wish the entire organising committee, the Maldives FA, and the Government of Maldives all the very best for the championship. I understand it’s a humongous task, and hope everyone stays safe for us to have a cracker of a tournament,” Sunil averred.
Midfielder Brandon Fernandes said that “there will be some tough matches in the next two weeks.”
“Since my childhood I have heard so many anecdotes about the SAFF Championship. Hence, it’s a different feeling for me to be in the squad for this edition. We understand that the next two weeks will be extremely tough and there will be some very close matches. The entire squad is up to the challenge,” he maintained.
The Blue Tigers will be inside a secured bio bubble all throughout the tournament, and the first training session is scheduled for Wednesday (September 29, 2021). The weather forecast predicts cloudy skies with isolated thunderstorms for the next few days.
The Blue Tigers have won the SAFF Championship (formerly SAARC Cup) seven times – 1993 in Lahore, 1997 in Kathmandu, 1999 in Margao, 2005 in Karachi, 2009 (U23 squad) in Dhaka, 2011 in New Delhi), and 2015-16 in Thiruvananthapuram.
Following are India’s fixtures in the group stage:
October 4: Bangladesh vs India (IST 4.30 pm).
October 7: India vs Sri Lanka (IST 4.30 pm).
October 10: Nepal vs India (IST 8.30 pm).
October 13: India vs Maldives (IST 8.30 pm).
The 23-member Indian squad is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh, Vishal Kaith, Dheeraj Singh.
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Seriton Fernandes, Chinglensana Singh, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.
FORWARDS: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary.