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Indian football squad arrives in the Maldives to play SAFF Championship

The 23-member squad along with the support staff travelled from Bengaluru where all had assembled the previous day. Head coach Igor Stimac has joined the squad directly in the Maldives.

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Maldives: Team India arrived in the Maldives on Tuesday to play the forthcoming SAFF Football Championship, which kicks off on October 1.

The 23-member squad along with the support staff travelled from Bengaluru where all had assembled the previous day. Head coach Igor Stimac has joined the squad directly in the Maldives.

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India begins their campaign 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,” Igor Stimac stated.

“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 the 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.

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), 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.

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