SAG Football draw held

source: The Daily Star

Hosts Bangladesh have been drawn in Group A along with two-time champions Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan in the football event of the 11th South Asian Games to be held in Bangladesh from January 29-February 9 next year.

Group B features defending champions Pakistan, four-time champions India, last year's runners-up Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. A simple draw ceremony of the eight-team Under-23 football event was held at a city hotel yesterday where representatives from hosts Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan were present.

Bangladesh and Pakistan were kept in the first pot as hosts and defending champions while six other teams were kept in three different pots (India and Maldives in second pot, Sri Lanka and Nepal in third pot and Bhutan and Afghanistan in fourth pot) considering their standing in the latest FIFA rankings. The teams were later they split in Group A and B through lottery.

The 1999 champions Bangladesh, who were eliminated from the group stage in last SA Games in Colombo in 2006, will start their campaign by taking on Nepal on January 30 at Bangabandhu National Stadium though the meet will get underway on January 29 with the match between holders Pakistan and Sri Lanka at MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong.

All matches of Group B will be held at MA Aziz Stadium while the semifinals and final and all Group A matches will be held at Bangabandhu National Stadium.

In women's football event, five teams -- hosts Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan -- will play round-robin matches and the top two teams from there will advance to the final which will be held on February 8 at BNS.

Birshreshtha Shaheed Sepoy Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur will host both the women's matches in the opening day. The remaining group matches will be held at Bangabandhu National Stadium. On January 29, hosts Bangladesh will launch their campaign against Nepal while India will face Sri Lanka.

BFF's senior vice president and SA Games football committee chairman Salam Murshedy, BFF vice presidents Manzoor Hossain Malu, Shawkat Ali Khan Jahangir, Kazi Nabil Ahmed, BFF women's committee secretary Mahfuza Akter Kiron, BFF member Golam Rabanni Helal were, among others, present on the draw ceremony.

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