India and Pakistan have been drawn in group A with Nepal and Kuwait at the 2023 SAFF Championship draw held in New Delhi on Wednesday.
The tournament is scheduled to be held in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4.
The other group will consist of Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Defending Champions and the hosts India won its eighth title in 2021 by defeating Nepal in the final.
Kuwait and Lebanon, despite not being a in South Asia, were invited as guest teams to make the event more competitive.
Sri Lanka is not eligible to participate in the competition owing to its suspension by the world governing body FIFA, while Afghanistan withdrew from SAFF and joined Central Asian Football Federation.
Pakistan is returning to the tournament after it missed the 2021 edition where it was serving suspension from FIFA which was lifted last year.
India and Pakistan last played against each other in September 2018 in the semifinal of the 12th edition of the SAFF Cup in Dhaka. India won that match 3-1 but lost to Maldives 1-2 in the final.
“Pakistan has confirmed its participation in the tournament, that is why they are here in the draw. All the countries of the South Asian region have the right to play in this tournament,” AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey said after the draw.
“But things like grant of visas, providing security to the teams, these are not the job of any football federation of any country. The AIFF administration will coordinate with the concerned ministries of the government and we will get the answer with the passage of time.”
SAFF Championship 2023 Draw:
Group A - India, Kuwait, Nepal and Pakistan
Group B - Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh
- Williamson given two weeks to prove World Cup fitness: New Zealand coach Stead
- Indian sports news wrap, August 28
- Neeraj Chopra wants to have fun as he takes on the world again
- World Athletics Championships 2023: Redemption for Ingebrigtsen with 5,000m gold
- Dubois seeks ‘justice’ after low blow call in loss to Usyk