By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu – The Nepal National U19 Football Team is set to kick off the SAFF U19 Championship with a clash against Pakistan U19 Football Team.
The inaugural match of the SAFF U19 Championship will witness reigning champions India facing Bangladesh at 1:30 PM in the Dasarath Stadium. Following this clash, the hosts, Nepal, will take on Pakistan in the second match of the day at 5:30 PM. Notably, Pakistan will be making its debut in the SAFF U19 Championship.
Nepal has been drawn into Group ‘A’ alongside Maldives and Pakistan, while Group ‘B’ consists of India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. After their encounter with debutant Pakistan on 21 September, Nepal will compete against the Maldives on 25 September.
The top two teams from each group will progress to the semifinals, scheduled for 27th September, with the final to take place on 30th September. Nepal will host the championship at Dasarath Stadium from September 21 to 30.
Both Nepal and India have previously clinched the SAFF U19 Championship twice. Nepal secured the title in 2015 and 2017, while India emerged victorious in 2019 and 2022.
In addition to the U19 team’s action, the Nepal National U16 Football Team will embark on their SAFF U16 Championship journey by facing Bangladesh. In the most recent edition of the SAFF U16 Championship, Nepal finished as runners-up, suffering a 4-0 defeat to arch-rival India in the final.
The SAFF U16 Championship will be hosted by Bhutan from September 1st to 10th at Changlimithang Stadium. Nepal has been drawn into Group ‘A’ alongside India and Bangladesh, while Group ‘B’ consists of Maldives, Bhutan, and Pakistan.
India has been the most successful team in the SAFF U16 Championship, claiming the title four times (2013, 2017, 2019, 2022), while Bangladesh secured the championship twice (2015, 2018), and Pakistan once (2011).
Despite not winning the title, Nepal has an impressive record in the tournament, finishing as runners-up on four occasions (2013, 2017, 2019, 2022). Regrettably, Sri Lanka will not be able to participate in both of the events as they are currently suspended by FIFA.
The All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has taken the initiative to conduct nationwide open selections for the U16 and U19 Championship squads. Following the selection process, ANFA will organize a closed camp for the chosen players.