Apart from the hosts the tournament will feature the likes of Syria, Tajikstan and DPR Korea.
The All India Football Federation has confirmed the participation of Syria, DPR Korea, and Tajikistan as the participating teams of the second edition of the Intercontinental Cup, to be held in Ahmedabad from July 7-18, 2019.
The Blue Tigers come into the competition as defending champions, having won the inaugural edition in June last year after defeating Kenya in the final, courtesy a brace from the Hero of the Tournament, Sunil Chhetri. New Zealand, and Chinese Taipei were the other two teams in the fray.
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AIFF General Secretary Mr. Kushal Das mentioned that the forthcoming Hero Intercontinental Cup will be an “acid test” for the Blue Tigers ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers which kick-off in September 2019.
“The AIFF and their partners FSDL have finalised an annual calendar for the Men’s National Team. In June, the National Team is scheduled to participate in the King’s Cup in Thailand where we play Curaçao in our first match, and then either Vietnam or Thailand. These matches will hold us in good stead for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers starting in September 2019,” he stated.
“I need to thank the respective Football Federations of Syria, Tajikistan, and DPR Korea for agreeing to come over for the four-nation event,” Mr. Das added.
All the four teams will be playing each other in a round robin phase, with the top two teams qualifying for the final. Teams like Syria, Korea DPR alongwith India qualified for the main rounds of the AFC Asian Cup. Although India started their campaign brightly against Thailand, the Blue Tigers lost their way in the next two games against UAE and Bahrain finishing last in the group. Similarly Syria and Korea DPR also struggled in the campaign as they also finished as the wooden spooners in their respective groups.
It will be a new challenge for the Blue Tigers as this time the level of competitiveness will go higher as teams like Syria, Tajikistan and Korea DPR will pose different kinds of threat. It will also be a water test for India’s new coach, Igor Stimac. The Croatian tactician will be at the helm with the Kings Cup almost around the corner. Similarly the Intercontinental Cup will also act as a basis of assessment for the new head coach before the all important World Cup Qualifiers.