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India to play Nepal in SAFF football opener

Defending champions India begin their campaign in the SAFF Football Championship against Nepal in the Maldivian capital of Male on June 3.

sports Updated: Feb 28, 2008 22:57 IST

Defending champions India begin their campaign in the SAFF Football Championship against Nepal in the Maldivian capital of Male on June 3.

India will take on Pakistan two days later before facing Maldives in their last Group A round-robin match on June 7, according to the draw held at the Paradise Island Resort in Maldives today.

The winners of the June 3-14 tournament, to be co-hosted by Sri Lanka and Maldives, will pocket USD 50,000. The runners-up will be richer by USD 25,000, while the losing semifinalists will get USD 10,000 each.

Group B comprised last edition's runners-up Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bhutan.

The top two teams from each group will make it to the semifinals, to be played on June 11.

All Group A matches will be played in Male, while Group B clashes and the final on June 14 will be held in Colombo.

If both Maldives and Sri Lanka finish first or second in their respective groups, they will play at home in the semifinals on June 11. If one of the host countries finish first in their group and the other finish runners-up bringing about a semifinal match up, then the team winning the group will play at home.

India had won the biennial tournament on four earlier occasions. They had beaten Bangladesh 2-0 in final of the fourth edition in Karachi in December 2005. The fifth edition was to be held last year but posponed in June this year.

Schedule:

June 3 : India v Nepal; Maldives v Pakistan (In Male)

June 4: Bangladesh v Bhutan; Sri Lanka v Afghanistan (In Colombo)

June 5: India v Pakistan; Maldives v Nepal (In Male)

June 6: Afghanistah v Bangladesh; Sri Lanka v Bhutan (In Colombo)

June 7: Pakistan v Nepal; India v Maldives (In Male)

June 8: Afghanistan v Bhutan; Sri Lanka v Bangladesh (In Colombo)