AIFF hints at India playing more friendlies with West Asian countries

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Kolkata : All India Football Federation (AIFF) senior vice president Subrata Dutta, who was elected vice president of the South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) recently, on Monday said the Indian football team will play friendlies with West Asian teams on a regular basis from now on.

"Now India shall have the opportunity to play against teams from West Asia which will help us improve our ranking. I believe SWAFF will surely help India to develop," Dutta told IANS a day after he was elected by the newly formed SWAFF during its General Assembly in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"AIFF shall support SWAFF to fulfill its objectives. We shall also give our best efforts for the achievement of SWAFF's mission and vision," he added.

Dutta was elected for a four-year term in the polls of the regional football body.

The Indian team is expected to play international friendlies against higher-ranked Saudi Arabia and China in the run-up to next year's AFC Asian Cup.

"President of Saudi Arabia Football Federation, Adel Ezzat, who is also the President of SWAFF, shall come to India end of this month to finalise it," Dutta said.

India are clubbed with UAE, Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the continental showpiece. The Asian Cup is from January to February 1 across eight centres in four United Arab Emirates cities.