Bengaluru to host two Asian Cup qualifiers

Bengaluru will play host to two of India’s upcoming games in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers this year, a source close to the All India Football Association (AIFF) has confirmed.

The Indian team is scheduled to play Kyrgyzstan on June 13 and Macau on October 10. With most of the other stadiums that meet the AFC criteria being occupied for the FIFA U-17 World Cup during that period, Bengaluru was the only option that the AIFF could boil down to.

The national team also is scheduled to play two friendly games. They play Lebanon on June 7 and Palestine on October 2. “The other stadiums will be occupied for the U-17 World Cup. So with that being the case, Bengaluru was the only non-World Cup option we had,” the source said.

Though the qualifying games will be played in Bengaluru, the national camp and international friendlies ahead of the tie will be hosted by Mumbai. “The Andheri Sports Complex (in Mumbai) doesn’t meet the AFC criteria, so we have problem there. But then, it can host friendlies.

“Moreover, the head coach (Stephen Constantine) prefers to have the camp there since we get exclusive access to the ground, unlike in Bengaluru where the running track around the field is open for public use. So the plan is to camp in Mumbai, play the friendly there and then reach Bengaluru 3-4 days ahead of the tie,” the source explained.

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