AIFF cancels Champions Cup and organizes a tri-series tournament in Chennai
India will play St. Kitts and Mauritius in a tri-nation tournament in Chennai.
What's the story?
India's annual four-nation Champions Cup has been cancelled this year by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). In place of the proposed tournament in Chennai, the board has announced a tri-series in its place which will include countries like Mauritius and St. Kitts along with the hosts, India. The tournament is expected to be played between 19 and 27 August at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Chennai.
In case you didn't know...
Chennai will host a game for the Indian national team after a decade when India played out a 1-1 draw against Iraq in a pre-Olympics match. The last international tournament that was played in Tamil Nadu was in 1993 when Chennai hosted the Nehru Cup.
This tri-series is being organised as a preparatory tournament for the Blues who face Macau on September 5 in the AFC Cup qualifying match. India are currently top of the pile with six points after wins over Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar.
The heart of the matter
AIFF was reportedly eager on inviting the fourth nation for the tournament and had even contacted the likes of Afghanistan and Malaysia. But scheduling issues caused both nations to turn down the invitation with the Malaysian Super League already starting in August.
Though the format of the tournament is yet to be known, India will most probably get to play three games in the tournament before they take on Macau in the AFC qualification. Meanwhile, the two teams in the competition, St Kitts and Nevis (FIFA rank 124) and Mauritius (FIFA rank 153) are not expected to be a tough task for the in-form Indians.
The owners of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, the SDAT have not yet given the board an NOC to conduct the tournament at their ground. But the Tamil Nadu Football Association believes that an NOC will be obtained in the next couple of days with renovation work going on in full swing at the stadium. The AIFF have also revealed that the Champions Cup will again be organised next August as usual.
The aim of a tournament was to give enough preparation for Stephen Constantine and his men for the upcoming qualification games. Subsequently, the team has been given relatively easy opponents in the tri-series to get back to fitness for the qualifying matches and for the ISL.
It will also allow the management in releasing Bengaluru FC players from of the squad who face North Korean Club, Sports Club in the AFC Cup on the 23rd August.