NEW DELHI: After the grand success of the Hero Tri-Nation International Football Tournament in Manipur, it is now time for Bhubaneswar to host the Senior Men’s National Team, as it gets ready to hold the Hero Intercontinental Cup in June.
The four-team Hero Intercontinental Cup will be played in the FIFA International Window from June 9 to 18, with hosts India being joined by Lebanon, Mongolia and Vanuatu in the tournament.
This will be the third edition of the Hero Intercontinental Cup, with the previous two being held in Mumbai (2018) and Ahmedabad (2019).
Federation Secretary General Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran welcomed Odisha into the fold of senior Men’s International football, saying, “Imphal had experienced the joy of International football in March, and now it’s Bhubaneswar’s turn to join the country’s growing map of international venues for men’s football.
“Bhubaneswar was one of the venues of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, and with that, we have seen some excellent infrastructure being developed by the Government of Odisha,” he said. “It is a legacy that the U-17 Women’s World Cup has left behind and has paved the path for the Senior Men’s National Team to now play in the city for the first time in its history.
“If you look at what happened in Manipur, it was held for the first time, and that way we are confident that fans in Odisha will display equal enthusiasm for the event,” said Dr Prabhakaran. “We are also hopeful that Odisha football will benefit greatly from hosting the Hero Intercontinental Cup.”
The Indian Men’s National Team had previously never played against Mongolia and Vanuatu. Against Lebanon, the hosts hold a record of playing six matches.
The Blue Tigers are currently on a five-match unbeaten streak on home turf, a run that began on June 8, 2022, with a 2-0 win over Cambodia in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers Round 3 in Kolkata. Since then, Igor Stimac’s boys have defeated Afghanistan (2-1), Hong Kong (4-0), and then on to the Hero Tri-Nation, where they beat Myanmar (1-0) and the Kyrgyz Republic (2-0) in Imphal.