PANAJI: The next edition of the South Asian Football Federation Cup (SAFF) could be played as early as June 2015 in Delhi.
The SAFF Cup 2015 was originally scheduled for later this year but the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has told organizers they can only stage the eight-nation tournament in June and not later this year.
“We cannot find any other slot. It’s difficult to accommodate the tournament in December due to our packed calendar,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told TOI on Friday.
The AIFF have not confirmed the venue for the SAFF Cup 2015 but in all certainty the tournament will be held in Delhi.
“We have two options for now, Delhi and Goa. Since the tournament can only be played in the second half of June — once the World Cup qualifiers are played — I think Goa will be ruled out due to the onset of monsoon,” said Das.
The AIFF will use two stadiums in Delhi — Nehru Stadium and Ambedkar Stadium — and all matches will be played under lights.
When India won the bid to host the next edition of the tournament in 2013, it was thought December would be the perfect time for all South Asian nations. But India has the Indian Super League (ISL) to take care of, while the I-League kicks off almost immediately.
In July, the AIFF will have the Federation Cup, while the ISL kicks off in September. With India qualifying for the World Cup qualifiers main group, there will be international assignments in June (11, 16), September (3, 8), October (8, 13) and November (12, 17).
Meanwhile, organizers of the SAFF Cup are yet to decide whether this year’s edition will include defending champions Afghanistan, who recently left South Asia and joined Central Asia. The final decision will be taken later this month after a meeting between SAFF, BFF president Kazi Salahuddin and AFC president Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.