2023 SAFF Championship: India Drawn in Same Group as Pakistan Along With Nepal, Kuwait

India has been grouped with Pakistan for the SAFF Championship 2023, which will be held in Bengaluru.

On Wednesday, host nation India was put together with Pakistan, Nepal, and tournament invitee Kuwait in group A of the 2023 SAFF Championship, which is slated to be held in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4.

In Group B, there is team Lebanon, along with the Maldives, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, and the decision was made in the draw held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

SAFF Championship 2023 Draw:

Group A - India, Kuwait, Nepal, and Pakistan

Group B - Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan, and Bangladesh

[caption id="attachment_83409" align="alignnone" width="700"] Credit- News18/AIFF)[/caption]

For those caught unaware, Lebanon and Kuwait, which are not in South Asia geographically, are actually invited to be part of the 2023 edition in order to give the championship a more competitive edge.

Sri Lanka, which is part of South Asia, is not part of the tournament after serving a suspension from the world governing body FIFA, while Afghanistan moved out of SAFF to join the Central Asian Football Federation.

Coming to Pakistan, the team is all set to return to the SAFF fold after failing to feature in two tournaments out of the 13 held since 1993. While the Pakistan Football Federation could not send its team to India for the 2015 edition due to internal issues, it also missed the 2021 edition due to a suspension from FIFA. The suspension was finally lifted last year.

India’s record in SAFF Championship

India, which has won the SAFF Championship eight times, is the record winner of the regional tournament. The Maldives are the defending champions for this edition, having won the title twice, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have taken home the trophy once each.

In 32 India-Pakistan meetings, India has won 19 times, while Pakistan has won on just five occasions. The last time India took on Pakistan on the football field was during the semi-finals of the 2018 SAFF Championship, which India won 3-1.

As for Nepal, the Indian men’s football team witnessed their eighth title after beating them 3-0 in the 2021 final. Coming to Kuwait, India played with the team in an international friendly in 2010 and lost 1-9.