SAFF Suzuki Cup: History of the Tournament


The first edition of South Asia's biggest football tournament was held in 1993 and was called the South Asian Association of Regional Corporation Gold Cup (SAARC Gold Cup).

It was a tournament played amongst SAARC Nations: India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Held in Lahore in 1993, the Indian team triumphed.

In 1995, the tournament was renamed the South Asian Gold Cup and Bangladesh became a member. Hosts Sri Lanka recorded a memorable victory in Colombo.

The event was rechristened the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Gold Cup in 1997 in Kathmandu. That year, Maldives joined the competition for the first time and qualified for the final, only to go down 5-1 to champions India.

Afghanistan and Bhutan entered the fray in Dhaka in 2003 - the year hosts Bangladesh claimed the title. Bangladesh also hosted the event in 2009.

In 2008 the tournament name changed to the SAFF Championship, while it was in 2015 that Suzuki Motor Corporation came on board as title sponsor resulting in the event transitioning into the SAFF Suzuki Cup.

So far India have won the Cup a record seven times and been runners up thrice while Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Sri Lanka have each tasted victory once.

In 2015, Afghanistan marked their final appearance in the event by finishing second. The Afghan's departure resulted from their decision to become members of the Central Asian Football Association.

A Round Robin League system was used in 1993 but since then the tournament format has seen a Group stage played first followed by knock-out rounds (Semi-Final and Final).

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