Intercontinental Cup 2018: AIFF ropes in Kenya as replacement after South Africa pull out
What’s the story?
In a recent development, it has now been revealed that South Africa, who were amongst the three nations to visit India for the Intercontinental Cup, won’t be taking part in the four-nation tournament. Instead, 113-ranked Kenya will be filling their spot.
In case you did not know...
The 2018 Intercontinental Cup is being organised to serve as a preparatory ground for Stephen Constantine's men who have qualified for the AFC Asian Cup 2019. It will strengthen India’s preparation for the mega-event to be held in UAE next year, their second qualification to the continental championship in eight years, the last being in Doha 2011.
It will be a four-team association football tournament held at the Mumbai Football Arena between the 1st and 10th of June 2018.
The heart of the matter
South Africa, who hosted the World Cup in 2010, won’t be able to take part in the tournament due to a mismatch in their schedule. The nation is slated to host the 2018 COSAFA Cup which begins in July, thus forcing them to pull out of the Intercontinental Cup.
The news was confirmed by AIFF secretary Kushal Das. Das said to Sportskeeda, "I think South Africa have miss-planned their schedule. They will play in the COSAFA Cup, which at that time was not confirmed. Now that the tournament has been confirmed, and they said that they have to play there, so they pulled out. Instead, Kenya have are set to play."
Planned as an annual event, the Intercontinental Cup will thus have representation from the CAF region in the form of Kenya, New Zealand from Oceania, and Chinese Taipei from AFC.
The tournament format, however, will remain the same. Every team will be playing each other once, with the top two teams advancing to the summit clash.
Having both South Africa and New Zealand would have enriched the tournament, as both the nations have the experience of playing in the World Cup. Nevertheless, Kenya are expected to bring in a strong competition as well, and it will be a great exposure for the Blue Tigers to take on such sides ahead of the AFC Asian Cup.