The All India Football Federation (AIFF) released a calendar for all Indian football competitions, both at the national and club level, recently, and it focuses on giving players enough opportunities to play to keep them better prepared for matches at the international level. Here, we take a look at the major highlights of the calendar.
Intercontinental Cup To Return In June
The Intercontinental Cup, which replaced the Nehru Cup in 2017, is all set to return this year after a halt enforced by the COVID-19 outbreak. The tournament hasn’t been played since 2020 and now the AIFF is looking to bring it back. The calendar has the tournament scheduled for June 8-18, which is after the end of the domestic season.
Other details of the tournament like participating teams, format and venues are yet to be revealed, but this is definitely exciting news for fans. India finished fourth in the 2019 Intercontinental Cup and will be looking to claim it this time.
Consistent International Friendly Matches For The Indian Women’s Football Team
The newly appointed AIFF officials look totally invested in improving the quality of women’s football in India. The officials have carefully carved out three separate international FIFA friendly windows for the Indian Women’s Football Team. This will give them a lot of exposure to quality football, which was missing before.
The Blue Tigresses will play the friendly games in the months of February, March, April and July. They will face quality teams like Jordan and Uzbekistan in friendly games in March, and are also slated to participate in reputed tournaments like the Gold Cup, Asian Games and Women’s Olympic 2024 Qualifiers.
U-23 Players To Participate in SAFF Championship
The SAFF Championship will coincide with the Intercontinental Cup in June and that’s why the AIFF officials have decided to send the Indian U-23 team to the competition, instead of the senior team. This was also done when Stephen Constantine was India’s head coach.
This move will have a lot of advantages as the young players will get exposure in a quality tournament to help improve and develop their game further.
Extensive Training Camps Before International Friendly Windows And Parallel Camps For Senior and U-23 Indian Teams
The AIFF has devised dedicated 7-10 day training camps before every international friendly window for the senior Indian men’s team. This will help the players in adapting better to the plans and strategies of national team head coach Igor Stimac, and in turn, this move is expected to yield better results in the important international matches. There are four such camps this year and Stimac will be looking to make full use of that.
Apart from that, Parallel camps for the senior and U-23 teams in August come up as a major highlight in AIFF’s calendar. While the U-23 team will be seen preparing for the U-23 Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers scheduled to take place in September, the senior team will prepare for the Asian Games. This will ensure better linkage between the young and the experienced set of players, and the youngsters in term will find it easier to adapt to the senior team, whenever they are called up.