No SAFF C’ship, Asian qualifiers in Bangladesh
The deteriorating Covid situation in the country has prompted robbed Bangladesh of hosting two major two regional football events in the coming months.
The SAFF Championship, which was deferred to August-September this year from 2020 due to the pandemic, will not be staged in Bangladesh after the game's local governing body informed of its unwillingness to host the event due to the rising Covid cases.
"With the rising Covid cases in the country, we felt it was unrealistic to stage such a big event in Sylhet as the Bangabandhu National Stadium is about to undergo renovation. We relayed the decision to the SAFF secretariat," Bangladesh Football Federation's general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag told The Daily Star.
Earlier on Friday, SAFF general secretary Anwarul Haque Helal, following a virtual meeting with six member associations of SAFF, told local media that the event might be held in October in an appropriate venue.
"We have discussed the issue of BFF's unwillingness to host the event with the member associations. All the countries want the tournament to be held this year. We want to hold the tournament in early October when we have a gap in the slot," Helal said.
It has been learnt that Nepal, India and the Maldives have expressed interest in organising the tournament, which is likely to be a five-team affair instead of seven due to Pakistan's FIFA suspension and Bhutan's unwillingness to travel abroad during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Asian football's governing body, AFC, has corresponded with the BFF regarding hosting Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers at a neutral venue instead of Sylhet.
"The AFC conveyed to us that the qualifiers will not be staged in Bangladesh mainly due to the Covid situation. The Qualifiers will be held at a neutral venue, which will be decided within a few days," Shohag told The Daily Star.
Bangladesh were drawn alongside Iran and Jordan in Group G of the Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers, scheduled for September this year.