SAFF Championship: On tournament eve, AIFF yet to announce team

With less than a day to go, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has failed to announce the squad for the 2018 SAFF Championship.

India goes into the SAFF Championship as the outright favourite. Stephen Constantine's side has been drawn in Pool B along with Sri Lanka and 2008 champion Maldives.   -  AIFF Media

The tournament starts tomorrow. Defending champion India begins its campaign the day after. As of today, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is yet to announce the squad for the 2018 SAFF Championship in Dhaka.

Sportstar got in touch with officials from the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), the host organisation, who revealed that the participating countries had submitted the team lists. “The official deadline for submission of squads was 2pm (1:30pm IST) this afternoon. All seven participating teams have submitted their final list of 20 players,” said BFF's assistant head of competition, Hasan Mahmud.

India goes into the seven-nation SAFF Championship as the outright favourite. Stephen Constantine's side has been drawn in Pool B along with Sri Lanka and 2008 champion Maldives. The side will play its first game against 1995 champion Sri Lanka on September 5, and face the Maldives on September 9.

The Indian side reached Dhaka on Monday afternoon and had a training session. However, there is no clarity on the final squad. The only update regarding the team so far is that 22 players have reached the venue and defender Subhasish Bose has been named the captain.

When asked about the ambiguity regarding the squad, AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das, told Sportstar, “That is completely up to the coach. That doesn't matter (that India's first game is on Wednesday). The squad has reached Bangladesh and the coach will decide.”

The Indian team had a training camp in Australia ahead of the tournament and played friendlies with the likes of APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC and A-League champion Sydney FC. While 22 players and two reserves had boarded the flight to Sydney, the likes of Nishu Kumar and Udanta Singh, who are regulars in the main team, were left out. The four Indian Arrows players who featured in the FIFA U-17 World Cup – Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rahim Ali and Rahul KP – and were called up for the preparatory camp, have not been picked for the tournament.