New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has officially revealed that Bhubaneswar and Guwahati will be the host cities for India’s first two home matches in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers and the AFC Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2.
India, placed in Group A of the Asian qualifiers, will face formidable opponents in the form of Qatar, Kuwait, and the winners of the preliminary joint qualification round 1 encounter between Afghanistan and Mongolia.
The much-anticipated journey for the Blue Tigers is set to commence with an away fixture against Kuwait on November 16 of this year. The following fixture promises to be a monumental occasion, as India’s Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar will play host to the reigning AFC Asian Cup champions, Qatar, on November 21, 2023.
In 2024, India will again step onto the international stage with back-to-back matches against either Afghanistan or Mongolia. The first leg will be an away fixture scheduled for March 21, followed by a return home to the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati on March 26.
AIFF Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran expressed his congratulations to the Football Association of Odisha and the Assam Football Association for successfully securing the hosting rights for these crucial matches. He also conveyed his best wishes for the successful execution of the games at a world-class level with the full support of the respective state governments.
This announcement marks a significant moment for football in India, as it not only provides an exciting opportunity for the nation’s players but also showcases the growth and potential of the sport in the country. The chosen venues, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati, have a rich footballing history and passionate fan bases, ensuring an electrifying atmosphere for the matches.