Hosts Malaysia, India, Palestine, and Lebanon will battle it out in the prestigious tournament following a 10-year hiatus.
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has confirmed the participation of four countries (Palestine, Lebanon, India, and hosts Malaysia) in the 42nd edition of the Merdeka Cup to be held in October 2023.
The last edition of the tournament was held way back in 2013. Merdeka Cup was one the oldest international football tournaments in Asia and one of the most prestigious ones in the continent. Indian legends – PK Banerjee and Tulsidas Balram have been part of the tournament in the 1960s.
Earlier, there were speculations of Malaysia not inviting India to take in the Mederka Cup. But Shaji Prabhakaran told Sportsar, “When we were in Malaysia a few months back, it was finalized 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.” The exact dates of the tournament are yet to be announced.
India’s schedule in 2023
The first edition of the Merdeka Cup was held in 1957 and was played annually till 1988. The Blue tigers have finished runners-up twice, in 1959 and 1964. Igor Stimac’s men will have a tight schedule ahead of the Asian Cup.
India will play two friendly matches against Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan Republic in the March FIFA window followed by the Intercontinental Cup in June or July. India will also host the SAFF Championships in June (dates aren’t confirmed yet).
The 2022 Asian Games which was postponed earlier, is set to be held in September in China.
Generally, only the U-23 players along with a few senior players, are sent to the continental championships. Igor Stimac earlier said that the Blue Tigers will start their preparations for the Asian Cup in December (if the tournament is to be held in January).
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