The Blue Tigers could line up against heavyweights like Qatar or Saudi Arabia.

The West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) championship is set to take place soon. Plenty of strong Asian nations such as continental champions Qatar, World Cup participants Saudia Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Syria, Iraq, Oman, Kuwait, Lebanon, Yemen and Palestine are part of the federation. The Indian men’s national football team has also been invited to participate in the upcoming WAFF Championships, as per a report from TOI.

A senior All India Football Federation (AIFF) official spoke to the Times of India and said, “The organisers have invited us to take part in the championship and we have already given our consent. The WAFF Championship will have a couple of invitational teams and we are now waiting for a final confirmation from the organisers about our participation.”

A promising opportunity

If India’s entry into the WAFF championship becomes official, then Igor Stimac’s men will get to play against superior opponents. The initial plan was to conduct international friendlies in March but stronger men’s national teams were not willing to travel to play against a weaker Indian team. However, the invitation to the WAFF championship will give India a great opportunity to play against stronger teams and gain valuable experience.

“We have been told that 12 teams will take part and they will be divided into three groups. India will have a minimum of three games (in the group stage),” said the AIFF official. Usually, not all WAFF member nations take part in the championship. Igor Stimac will hope to have a maximum number of players available for the tournament. Indian Super League ends on March 18 and it would affect the preparations of the Blue Tigers with some of the players from ISL finalists getting less time to train with the rest of the squad.

The WAFF championship was initially going to take place from 20 March 2023 to 3 April 2023 before the Asian Cup 2023. With the continental tournament set to take place in 2024 instead, the WAFF championship will go ahead as planned and the draw for it will take place on 26 January 2023. 

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