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Merdeka Cup to be shuffled as Palestine withdraws: India to face Tajikistan and Malaysia

The Merdeka Cup in Malaysia faces a setback as Palestine withdraws, leaving only three teams to compete: Malaysia, Tajikistan, and India.

Indian Football Team Intercontinental Cup Trophy

Indian football team with the 2023 Intercontinental Cup trophy (AIFF)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 9 Oct 2023 1:12 PM GMT

The Merdeka Cup, also known as Pestabola Merdeka, has been a symbol of friendly competition between nations since its inception in 1957.

This historic tournament is held to commemorate Malaysia's Independence Day, after a decade-long hiatus, the tournament was slated to make a triumphant return this year.

However the Palestine Football Association has announced its decision not to participate in the upcoming Merdeka Cup in Malaysia, leaving the prestigious international football tournament with just three competing teams due to the ongoing tension between Palestine and Israel- Malaysia (H), Tajikistan, and India.

India has participated in 17 out of the 41 previous iterations of the Merdeka Cup with the last being in 2001.

The original schedule for the Merdeka Cup 2023 was as follows:

October 13, Friday

- Semi-final 1: Palestine vs. Tajikistan โ€“ 2:00 PM IST

- Semi-final 2: Malaysia vs. India โ€“ 6:30 PM IST

October 17, Tuesday

- Third-place play-off: Loser of SF1 vs. Loser of SF2 โ€“ 2:00 PM

- Final: Winner of SF1 vs. Winner of SF2 โ€“ 6:30 PM

However, with Palestine's withdrawal, tournament organizers are now compelled to release a revised schedule and format.

India's 26-member probable list for the Merdeka Cup 2023 includes several familiar faces and promising talents across all positions. The squad boasts experienced players such as Sunil Chhetri and Manvir Singh and is under the guidance of Head Coach Igor Stimac.

India squad:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Vishal Kaith and Dheeraj Singh.

Defenders: Nikhil Poojary, Roshan Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Mehtab Singh, Lalchungnunga, Akash Mishra and Subhasish Bose.

Midfielders: Jeakson Singh, Suresh Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Rohit Kumar, Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Udanta Singh, Vikram Pratap Singh, Mahesh Singh Naorem, Liston Colaco and Nandhakumar Sekar.

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri and Manvir Singh.

Head Coach: Igor Stimac

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