Indian national football team could participate in King's Cup in Thailand in June
The Indian Football Team is set to participate in the King’s Cup scheduled to be held in Thailand in June this year, according to sources. They have officially received a formal invitation from the hosts, confirmed the All India Football Federation.
This will be the first fixture for the Indian team after they were knocked out from AFC Asian Cup, losing back-to-back matches against UAE and Bahrain. Coach Stephen Constantine resigned from the post of head coach after India’s disappointing performance in the quadrennial event. The AIFF has not announced a replacement yet but sources said they will appoint one very soon.
The King’s Cup is an invitational tournament which is organized by the Football Association of Thailand. Started in 1968, the tournament has been held every year, with five exceptions. International teams, as well as clubs, have been invited over the years.
The tournament witnessed players like Brian Laudrup, Jesper Olsen, Peter Schmeichel, Henrik Larsson, Robert Lewandowski, Martin Skrtel etc. Even a Brazil U-20 team, which had the likes of Cafu, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, and Rivaldo, participated in 1999. The same members would go on to win FIFA World Cup three years later.
India have participated only once in the tournament, that was in 1977. They finished in third position after hosts Thailand refused to play the playoffs. Incidentally, Thailand is the most successful team of the tournament. They have won the title 15 times and finished runner-up 12 times. The next best team is South Korea who has clinched the title seven times.
Apart from India, China and Vietnam will also participate in the tournament. In case Vietnam opts out due to prior commitments, a team from Europe, most probably Slovakia, will replace them.
Interestingly, it was Thailand who refused to play India in a friendly match just before the Asian Cup. Even though they were ranked below India, they wished to play against a much stronger opponent and eventually took the field against China. The 1-4 thrashing against India in the opening match of the Asian Cup might have influenced them to change the decision.
The tournament will be great exposure for the Indian players, who will get the taste of playing against stronger nations like China and Slovakia or Vietnam.