Pakistan has officially declared its participation in the South Asian Football Federation Championships in Bengaluru in June-July. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has also sanctioned the Pakistani players to tour India for the same.
Besides hosts India, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Pakistan are among the participants, with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives rounding out the group. Sri Lanka is not participating due to its suspension from FIFA, while Afghanistan left SAFF to join the Central Asian Football Federation a few years ago. The eight-team tournament will take place in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4.
Pakistan weren't part of two out of the 13 editions held so far since 1993. Due to internal concerns, the Pakistan Football Federation was unable to send a squad to the 2015 tournament in India. The country missed the 2021 edition since it was suspended by FIFA. The suspension got lifted last year.
AIFF general sees no problem with India hosting Pakistan:
"We don't see any problem in the coming of players from Pakistan to India to participate in the SAFF Championships. 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," All Indian Football Federation secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran told PTI.
India has won the regional event eight times in a row. Maldives has won the title twice, while Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have each won once. India is also serving as the hosts for the fourth time.
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