Kerala’s 2015 SAFF meet hosting arrangements on right track

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 3 (IANS) All arrangements for staging the 2015 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship here next month are taking shape, a top Kerala Football Association (KFA) official said on Tuesday.

The tournament is scheduled to take place from December 23 to January 3, next year, which will see the participation of host nation India, besides seven other teams, including defending champions Afghanistan.

The other teams are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Speaking to IANS, KFA president K.M.I. Methar, who is also a senior Congress leader, said all initial hiccups have been resolved over staging the event at the new Greenfield Stadium here.

“There were some issues with regard to the stadium fees and it has been amicably settled to the satisfaction of all. The facilities are world class and all the arrangements are getting ready,” said Methar.

The Greenfield Stadium was the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the National Games held in the state last year.

“The seating capacity has been fixed at 45,000 and, given the interest generated in the ongoing second edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), we expect a full house at the SAFF Championship,” said Methar.

The eight teams have been split into two groups with India placed in Group A alongside Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Group B comprises Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Each team play the other in the groups and the two top teams from each group qualify for the knockout with the winners meeting in the final on January 3.

There will be two matches every day with the first match starting at 3.30 p.m. local time and the second one at 6.30 p.m.

“We will soon have another session to finalise the ticket rates for the tournament. It being the first event at the stadium, we wish to get the maximum crowds in as the venue will get a World Cup qualifying match too… the schedule will be known very soon,” said Methar.

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