Burundi, Seychelles and Mauritius in other group at Bangabandhu Cup
Hosts Bangladesh have been grouped with reigning champions Palestine and familiar foe Sri Lanka in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup 2020.
The colorful draw ceremony, as well as the announcement of six participating teams, was held at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka Saturday.
Mauritius, Burundi and Seychelles were placed in the other group, as these three east African nations are set to make their debut in the tournament in its sixth special edition, scheduled to be held from January 15 to 25 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital.
This is going to be the first time senior national teams from Africa will take part in the competition, which was introduced in 1996-97.
Ghana took part in the second edition in 1999, sending their U-23 team, and finished runners-up.
Only Sri Lanka (205) and Seychelles (200) are ranked below Bangladesh (187) in the latest Fifa rankings, while Burundi (151) and Mauritius (172) are both ahead of the hosts.
Top-ranked Palestine (82) were the unbeaten champions of the 2018 edition, which was held in three different cities.
“We wanted to host this tournament at the end of last year, but the prime minister [Sheikh Hasina] advised me to hold it in 2020 because this year marks the birth centenary of Bangabandhu. We are very proud to host this,” said Bangladesh Football Federation President Kazi Salahuddin at the draw ceremony, adding that this year’s Saff Championship will also be named after Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal was the chief guest at the ceremony.
He said: “If it was not for the Father of the Nation, we wouldn’t be here together. It is our responsibility to let the world know about our Father of the Nation. Bangabandhu was also a football player and organizer. This tournament is the continuation of his legacy.”
Football legend Diego Armando Maradona will visit Bangladesh during the Mujib Barsho, the year-long celebration of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, confirmed Bangladesh Football Federation president Kazi Salahuddin Tuesday.https://t.co/5yTduYAj29#BFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) December 31, 2019
Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, member secretary of Bangabandhu’s Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee, said there will be 298 different events to celebrate the Mujib Barsho, while Youth and Sports Minister Jahid Ahsan Russel said there will be as many as 100 sports events.
The Gold Cup will be the first sports event after the countdown for Mujib Barsho starts on Friday at Old Airport, as it was the day Bangabandhu returned home after the Liberation War.
CEO of K-Sports, Fahad Karim, who holds the tournament rights, said they will make sure word of it reaches every corner of the world through social platforms.
Former Miss India Rupali Suri anchored the program, which featured audio visual shows and a performance by Russian and Ukrainian dancers exhibiting the flags and names of the participating countries.
The fixture list of the 11-day tournament has not been revealed yet.
Group A: Palestine, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Group B: Burundi, Seychelles, Mauritius