Indian Football News: Blue Tigers to face Thailand, Vietnam and Curacao in Kings Cup 2019 from June 5
The Indian national football team will square off against Thailand, Vietnam, and Curacao in the 2019 edition of the Kings Cup tournament to be held at the Chang Arena in Buriram, Thailand. The Football Association of Thailand confirmed the development on Tuesday.
India received a formal invitation to participate in the Kings Cup in March and although the AIFF didn't confirm the development, the sources within the body said that they were looking forward to send a team. India last participated in the tournament in 1977, where they finished third.
India will play their first match on June 5th against either one of the three teams. If they cross the first hurdle, they will play the final on June 8th against either one of the other two teams. Even if they lose their first match, they will face another team in the third-place playoffs.
This format of the Kings' Cup guarantees India of playing at least two international friendlies in the FIFA international window in the month of June. A draw will be held in the presence of representatives of all the participating nations on a later date wherein India's opponent in the opening round will be decided.
All these matches will be considered FIFA and AFC 'A' international matches and, it would be a great opportunity for India to make their return into the top 100 in FIFA rankings. India had slipped down to the 103rd position after their unceremonious group stage exit in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup but moved ahead two places later on.
The Kings' Cup was originally supposed to be held in the month of March. However, Vietnam denied Thailand's initial invitation as they had already booked a fixture against South Korea. While that fixture got cancelled, Thailand participated in the China Cup in 2019 where they finished runners-up after they defeated the hosts in the opening round.
Thailand decided to postpone their annual tournament in June and, Vietnam accepted their invitation this time. There were rumours of China or El Salvador being the fourth team to participate in the Kings' Cup floating in social media, but Curacao's confirmation puts to rest all these speculations.
The All India Football Federation is expected to announce their new head coach anytime soon after receiving more than 300 applicants. Whosoever gets the opportunity, his first task would be to guide India to a respectable finish in the tournament.