THE SAFF CHAMPIONSHIP OF 2020 will be once again held in Bangladesh, instead of Pakistan.
The previous edition in 2018, where India sent an U-23 squad, was also held in Bangladesh. This is the first time in the history of the sub-continental championship that successive editions are being held in the same country.
Originally, Pakistan were supposed to host the tournament, as per SAFF's rotation policy. Pakistan have hosted the competition twice before, in 1993 (first edition) as well as 2005. After that, due to Pakistan Football Federation's suspension from FIFA and security reasons, they missed out on their turns.
Last year, FIFA lifted the ban on Pakistan Football Federation, and they were able to participate in SAFF Championship for the first time since 2013. In Dhaka, they were also chosen as the hosts of the 2020 edition. But security issues became a point of concern.
Most countries are still apprehensive about sending a team to Pakistan, so much so that the Pakistan national team has been playing its home matches in Doha, the capital of Qatar. This is likely what caused SAFF to change the venue from Pakistan to Bangladesh again.
The South Asian Football Federation body has also decided that instead of even years, the SAFF Championship will return to its previous tradition of being hosted in odd years that was observed till 2015.
India have won the SAFF Championship a record 7 times; including one that was won by the India U-23 squad in 2009. Last year, head coach Stephen Constantine decided to play the U-23 squad in SAFF in order to try out more young players ahead of the 2019 Asian Cup. India lost to Maldives in the final. AIFF are yet to decide whether they will send the U-23 team in 2020 as well.
In the history of SAFF Championship, whenever India have finished runners up, they have gone on to win the next edition. It remains to be seen if that record will be upheld next year.