India have withdrawn from the race to host the 2027 Asian Cup ©AIFF

India have withdrawn from the race to hold the 2027 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup leaving Saudi Arabia as the sole candidate for the tournament,

"Our current focus is building the foundations of proper footballing structure before thinking of hosting bigger events like the AFC Asian Cup," an All India Football Federation (AIFF) statement said.

The decision marks a change in strategy by the AIFF.

"We must focus on developing the game on a priority basis, before planning to host major international competitions," AIFF secretary-general Dr. Shaji Prabhakaran insisted.

"Hosting competitions requires big resources and sometimes encourages the tendency to take the major issues away from our focus."

India had hosted the 2022 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in October.

They had submitted their bid for the 2027 Asian Cup two years ago alongside Iran, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia.

"India has always been a wonderful and efficient host to big tournaments, which was amply demonstrated in the recently concluded FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup," AIFF President Kalyan Chaubey said.

"However, the Executive Committee has decided that the overall strategy of the federation currently remains on focusing on the fundamental goals to strengthen our football at every level, from grassroots to youth development.

"At the same time, we must also strengthen our stakeholders, especially the state associations and work closely with the clubs to bring about a change in every aspect of football at the domestic level."

An announcement on the 2027 host city had originally been scheduled to be made in 2021 but this was delayed and a decision was set to be made at the AFC Congress in 2023.

India had also tabled a bid to host the 2023 Asian Cup but withdrew from the race in 2018.

World Cup hosts and Asian Cup holders Qatar have stepped in to host the 2023 tournament after the original hosts China pulled out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.