MUMBAI: The 12th edition of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) championship, earlier scheduled for December, has been deferred to September 2018.
The apex football tournament of the region - played among south Asian nations including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - has been deferred after India, the defending champions and the most successful team of the biennial tournament, put in a request for postponement, stating their unavailability during the period. The Under 17 World Cup to be hosted by India has pushed back the dates of the Indian Super League this year. The AIFF had asked the SAFF in May this year for a postponement of the tournament to enable India's participation.
In May, the AIFF had asked the SAFF to conduct the tournament in May 2018. According to a report in Bangaladesh's Daily Star however, SAFF general secretary Anwarul Haque Helal has been quoted as saying, “The SAFF meeting today [Sunday] decided to hold the SAFF Championship in Dhaka from September 4-15 with the participation of seven teams. The inclusion of Afghanistan was not accepted by the members."