Manipur is all set to host its first international football match ever as India gears up to take on Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan in a tri-nation friendly tournament at the Khuman Lampak Stadium.
The matches are scheduled to be played on March 22, 24, and 26, during the FIFA international window. The news was announced by Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh at a press conference graced by All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Kalyan Chaubey and secretary general Shaji Prabhakaran.
“It is a great initiative by the AIFF leadership that we are hosting international friendly matches in Manipur for the first time in history,” Biren said.
“From our end, I can assure everyone that the Government of Manipur will do everything to provide the finest facilities and facilitate the successful organization of the tournament”.
“Manipur has provided many international players for the national team. It is indeed an honor to host the tournament and further encourage our players and sports enthusiasts.”
Biren also mentioned how Manipur has produced so many footballers like Bala Devi, Renedy Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Udanta Singh, Amarjit Kiyam, Suresh Wangjam and Jeakson Singh, who have gone on to do the national jersey for India, and also requested the AIFF to assist in building a top-class academy in his state.
The Khuman Lampak Stadium, with a capacity of 35,000, has hosted I-League games for a long time. The group stage matches of the prestigious Durand Cup was held here last year.
“We all are aware of football’s popularity in Manipur. The state has produced a huge number of footballers, both men and women. However, never before has a national team match been organised in the state,” Chaubey said.
“Having launched Vision 2047 recently, our aim is to take quality football to the furthest corners of the country. Manipur’s vibrant football culture makes them deserving hosts, and so they have been given charge of hosting the Senior National Team’s matches,” the AIFF President added.
This tournament is a part of the pre-planned series of matches that India will play in order to get themselves properly trained and prepared for next year’s Asian Cup.
June 22, 2022 was the last time the Blue Tigers played on home soil. They topped their group that time to secure qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. They also defeated teams like Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Afghanistan in the process.