Pakistan national football team players have obtained entry visas to India, where they will face the host country on Wednesday in their first match on Indian soil since 2014, officials confirmed.
The match between the two countries will be the start of the SAFF Championship.
The two countries rarely face each other on home soil in any sport, due to long-simmering political tensions exacerbated by the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
The two neighbors have fought three wars since their founding following the division of the Indian Peninsula in 1947, and relations between the two nuclear-armed countries have remained tense in the past few years, particularly over the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan’s participation in the Bangalore event revived hopes that Islamabad would participate in the cricket world championship hosted by India later this year, after it had earlier threatened to boycott the competition.
“As dedicated sportsmen, we understand the power of sport to transcend political boundaries and foster strong ties between nations,” Pakistan captain Yousaf Butt told AFP.
Speaking from Mauritius, where Pakistan participated in the four-nation event, he added, “We will perform well despite the lack of sleep and jet lag. Off the field, we will try to win hearts to ease tension.”
The 32-member Pakistani delegation received their visas late Monday.
The last time Pakistan played football in India was in 2014, when they tied two matches, but they also faced each other in the AFC Championship in Bangladesh in 2018, where India won 3-1.
Football is popular in both countries, but is dwarfed by cricket.
The South Asian Football Federation Championship, which includes eight countries, begins on Wednesday, as Pakistan comes in the first group alongside India, Kuwait and Nepal, while the second group includes Lebanon, the Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The final match will be held on the fourth of July.
Follow our latest local and sports news and the latest political and economic developments via Google news