India take a competitive step up with switch to CAFA sub-region

September 3 – India will compete in Central Asian competitions to widen their pool of opponents, starting in 2022. 

In a statement, the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA) said: “The committee also agreed to include AIFF in CAFA competitions starting from 2022 with potential consideration of the participation of the AIFF youth national teams to be included in CAFA competitions this year.”

The inclusion will first apply to youth teams before the Blue Tigers, India’s senior national team, can participate in 2022. CAFA groups Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Rep, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, allowing India the opportunity to take on stronger opposition.

In India’s own region, the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 2018, the Maldives won the last SAFF Championship defeating the Indians 2-1 in the final.

On Thursday, the Indian team coached by Croatian Igor Stimac struggled in a friendly against neighbours Nepal, needing an equaliser from Anirudh Thapa in the 60th minute to draw 1-1.

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