AIFF to avoid holding competitions in hot months of April, May in future

New Delhi: The Super Cup and Indian Women’s League (IWL) were held in April and May this year but the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday said it will try to avoid holding competitions in these two hot months in future.
The Super Cup, competed among I-League and Indian Super League clubs, were held in Kerala from April 3 to 25 while the ongoing IWL in Ahmedabad began on April 26 and will end on Friday.
“This month, after the end of women’s league (IWL), the football season will end. It will be our endeavour how, considering the weather in our country, we can avoid holding football competitions in April and May,” AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey said here during the draw ceremony of next month’s SAFF Cup to be held in Bengaluru.
“We do not want our players to struggle against the tough weather.” Another AIFF official told PTI that the 2022-23 season spilled over to May as the calendar was crowded due to the coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chaubey said by the end of the South Asian Football Federation Cup (June 21 to July 4) in Bengaluru, the national men’s team would have played 10 to 12 matches.
He said India is also hoping to get invite to play in the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia, to be revived and held in October this year, and the Kings Cup in Thailand, which would give the Indian team quiet a good number of matches ahead of the Asian Cup to be held in Doha in January 2024.
“We’ve been trying to give maximum number of international matches to national team. After the tri-nation tournament in Manipur (in March), the intercontinental cup coming up in Bhubaneswar and the SAFF Cup combining together, the national team will get 10 to 12 international matches.
“After that, we are hoping to play in the Merdeka Cup and then the Kings Cup. So, adding up with the AFC Asian Cup matches, the national team will have another 10 to 12 matches.
“All adding up, in the 9-10 months’ time (March 2023 to January 2024), the national team will play 20-22 matches, which has never happened in the history of Indian football,” Chaubey claimed.
He also said that the AIFF will try to ensure that the national team plays against countries which are 5-6 places higher than the Blue Tigers in the FIFA rankings. India are currently ranked 101st.
“Our effort will be to play around 20-25 quality matches in a year, which will boost the confidence of the players,” said the AIFF chief.
Chaubey also explained why two teams from the Middle East — Lebanon and Kuwait — were invited to play in the SAFF Cup.
“India has won the tournament eight times. When we are not winning, we are runners-up (except in 2003 when India did not make it to the final). So, it has become very predictable if you know that a team will be in the final even before the start of the tournament.
“This is not good for the tournament and not good for the competing players. So this time, we requested the SAFF president and office bearers to invite teams from other regions. That is why, we invited Kuwait and Lebanon.” Lebanon are the highest ranked side in the SAFF Cup at 99th while Kuwait are at 143rd. The lowest ranked team in the tournament is Pakistan at 195th.

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