SAFF Championship 2021: SL Footballers to be Rewarded With Cash Prizes If They End up Victorious
By Mustaq Sydeen
Sri Lanka footballers will be rewarded with cash prizes if the lads emerge Champions at the SAFF Championship which will run from 1-16 October in Maldives, sources at Football Sri Lanka revealed. “We will offer substantial cash awards to all the players if they become Champions at the SAFF Championship. I cannot mention the exact amount, but it will be big for everyone,” sources at Football Sri Lanka said.
Sri Lanka was last crowned SAFF Champions in 1995 and will look to put up an improved performance this time in Maldives, especially after an inspirational performance during the recently concluded 2022 World Cup qualifying matches against Lebanon and South Korea. All participating teams are ready to give their best in the biennial competition and have chalked out a detailed training plan to prepare in the best way possible.
The Sri Lankan squad is also currently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia engaging in their final training camp ahead of the SAFF Championship and are scheduled to take wing to the Maldives on 26 September. The team led by Sujan Perera will have a mountain to climb as they are set to kick off their campaign against Bangladesh on 1 October, Nepal in their second outing on 4 October, followed by India on the 7th, and finally hosts Maldives on the 10th.
India has been the most successful country lifting the title on seven occasions, while Sri Lanka›s best performance was way back in 1995 when they outplayed India 1-0 in the final in Colombo. The tournament, originally scheduled to take place in Dhaka in 2020, has been repeatedly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The South Asian Football Federation explored multiple venues - including other cities in Bangladesh as well as a move to Nepal - before picking Maldives as the best possible candidate for hosting the matches earlier this month.
Five teams are competing in the 13th edition of the SAFF Championship. Bhutan had earlier informed they would not be able to participate if the championship was held this year due to travel restrictions in and out of the country due to the pandemic, while Pakistan is ineligible to participate because of a FIFA suspension.
This is the second time Maldives will be hosting the highlyanticipated SAFF Championship. While the country co-hosted with Sri Lanka in 2008, Maldives won the championship that year, Further, while the last SAFF Championship was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2018, Maldives took home the trophy that year as well after beating India in the finals.