In SAFF Championship 2023, the Indian men’s football team defeated arch-rival Pakistan 4-0 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru last night. For India, captain Sunil Chhetri scored a hat-trick while Udanta Singh Kumam scored the fourth goal in the 81st minute. Chhetri scored the first goal in the 10th minute, the second goal in the 16th minute and the third penalty goal in the 74th minute. With this, India has begun its tournament journey on a winning note.
Earlier in the day, Kuwait defeated Nepal 3-1 in the tournament opener. The eight teams, which are taking part in the 14th edition of the SAFF Championship, have been divided into two groups. Group A comprises India, Kuwait, Nepal and Pakistan while Group B consists of Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Sunil Chhetri-led India are the highest-ranked team in Group A. They are 101st in the FIFA rankings. Kuwait are world No. 143 followed by Nepal at 174. Nepal were the runners-up in the last edition in 2021. Pakistan are ranked lowest at 195th.
The group stage will be played in a single round-robin format. The top two teams from each group will then play semi-final on 1st of next month. The final is scheduled for 4th of next month. India have won SAFF Championship eight times and are the most successful team in the tournament.