Manipur will host the Hero Tri-nation FIFA Friendly Football Tournament in Imphal on March 22, 24, and 26.
Besides India, other two teams taking part in the tournament to be played at the Khuman Lampak Stadium are Myanmar and the Kyrgyz Republic.
This was announced by Chief Minister of Manipur N Biren Singh, at a press conference in Imphal on Monday, in the presence of President, All India Football Federation(AIFF) Kalyan Chaubey, and Secretary General Shaji Prabhakaran.
“It is a great initiative by the AIFF leadership that we are getting to host International friendly matches in Manipur for the first time in history. From our end, I can assure everyone that the government will do everything to provide the best facilities and facilitate in the successful organisation of the tournament. "the chief minister said
"Manipur has been a significant contributor in Indian Football scene and we are grateful that the AIFF management has also taken the step towards spreading the game to different parts of the country,” he said adding that the "State has provided many International players for the National Team. It is indeed an honour to host the tournament and further encourage our players and sports enthusiasts.
"The likes of Renedy Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Udanta Singh, Amarjit Kiyam, Suresh, Jeakson and lots more have all set the international stage alight and held the standards of Manipur football high on the national and international stages,” he said.
"Manipur has been a great contributor to women's football as well. Players like Bala Devi, who is one of the best strikers of this generation, captain Ashalata Devi, Dangmei Grace, Elangbam Panthoi Chanu and many more have made the country proud time and again well."
The CM also requested the AIFF’s assistance in establishing a top-class academy in the state. “I would also like to request the AIFF for its assistance in establishing a football academy of global standards in Manipur, where we can further nurture the talented boys and girls from the state and set their course for further development.”
This will be the first time that the India Senior National Team will be playing in Imphal, Manipur, as the Federation looks to spread the outreach of the beautiful game throughout the country, in line with its strategic roadmap, Vision 2047.
The venue for the games is the historic Khuman Lampak Stadium, which has over the years hosted many Hero I-League games and also group stage games of the prestigious Durand Cup in August 2022. Established in 1999, the stadium has a capacity of 35,000.
"We all are aware of football’s popularity in Manipur. The state has produced a huge number of footballers, both men and women, but never before has a national team’s match been organised in the state,” Kalyan Chaubey said. “Having launched Vision 2047 recently, our aim is to take quality football to the furthest corners of the country. Manipur’s vibrant football culture makes them deserving hosts, and so they have been given charge of hosting the Senior National Team’s matches."
The AIFF President praised Manipur Chief Minister Shri N Biren Singh, who has promised more infrastructural growth of football in the state of Manipur.
Head Coach Igor Stimac expressed excitement at the forthcoming games saying, "It will be great to play a few friendly matches at home again. We now have enough time to check our opponents' form and formulate our plans accordingly.
“These games should serve us well as we prepare for the Asian Cup. Hopefully we can start the year with a few good results,” he added. “I hope all our boys will maintain good form and stay injury free in the next few weeks until we get together.”