India might soon receive an invitation from the organisers of Copa America, the South American football championship, for the next edition of the showpiece event after it narrowly missed out on 2021 due to scheduling issues.
Copa America, which was postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will begin from June 11, 2021. The Blue Tigers could have been one of the participants after being recommended by Australia, which has pulled out of the tournament, as their replacement.
“There were two Asian teams, Qatar and Australia, invited for Copa America. Australia couldn’t make it due to various commitments. They actually then spoke to India and to CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation), who were excited to get India. They were very interested in having us play,” All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das was quoted as saying by TOI.
However, India wasn’t able to confirm on their participation following the postponement of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers from March-April to June by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“There were scheduling issues. The Copa America is in June and we were trying to see if the qualifiers could be played earlier in March or April. But it didn’t work out for some of the countries (in the group) like Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Had the qualifiers been in March or April, it would have been a fantastic experience for our team. It’s a very difficult tournament, but for a young squad, this is what they require. I hope, as the organizers have indicated that they are interested in India, we can make it happen in the future,” added Das.
Meanwhile, India coach Igor Stimac said: “We were all really excited. There was a chance for us to go there, instead of Australia. This would have been a wonderful experience. In the future, hopefully we will be invited.”
Earlier, Australia and Qatar had pulled out of the 2021 Copa America, scheduled to be held in June in Colombia and Argentina, due to a clash with World Cup qualifying dates.
Significantly, it will be the first time the Copa is played in Colombia and Argentina.
The Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires will host the tournament opener between Argentina and Chile while the final will be held at the Metro stadium in Barranquilla, Colombia on 10 July.