The Secretary General of AIFF has confirmed the Blue Tigers’ participation in the competition.
After a brief period of rumours and assumptions, football fans all across India have finally been served with the propitious news, as the Secretary General of AIFF, Shaji Prabhakaran has confirmed India’s presence in the Merdeka Cup, which is deemed to be staged this year.
“When we were in Malaysia a few months back, it was finalised that India will be part of the Merdeka Cup whenever it happens. Suddenly some fake news resulted in confusion. So, they (Malaysian FA) iterated recently that India will be there,” Shaji Prabhakaran told Sportstar.
The dates and various other details regarding the tournament aren’t announced yet, though there have been rumours of the tournament taking place in September.
India’s previous performances in the Merdeka Cup
Being one of the oldest international football tournaments in Asia, the Merdeka Cup has seen some of India’s finest footballers play. With players like P. K. Banerjee and Tulsidas Balaram having left their marks in the prestigious tournament, Igor Stimac’s men will surely be looking to make their own legacy this time around.
Since the tournament started in 1957, India has participated a number of times, and were even the runners-up in 1959 and 1964.
“Merdeka has an emotional connection with India. Whenever India participated in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, it took the Indian flag higher. And so, when Merdeka starts again, we would like to be there and give more competitive exposure to our players. And that way our team can also grow,” the Secretary General opined.
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History of the Merdeka Cup
The Merdeka Cup had been founded in 1957, and was also known as the ‘Mini Asia Cup’. It was a prestigious tournament among Asian nations because the participants sent their full senior team. The event had been held annually from 1957 to 1988, after which its popularity declined. The Merdeka Cup was dissolved in 2013.