AFC Cup finalists Bengaluru FC begin their continental campaign next year against Jordanian club Al Wehdat SC in the preliminary stage 2 fixture of the AFC Champions League, Asia's premier club competition.
Bengaluru FC need not compete in a preliminary stage 1 game because their run to the AFC Cup finals has helped improve India's ranking among member nations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC ) for continental competitions. Mohun Bagan 2015 I-League champions had to go through three rounds of qualifications for the main draw of the AFC Champions Leagues.
The away tie against Al Wehdat will take place on January 31 and the winner of the tie will come up against Al Wahda of UAE in the play-off stage to be played on February 7. Defeat in either of the games will see Bengaluru drop down to the group stages of the AFC Cup.
Champions of the Jordan league for the last three seasons, Al Wehdat have won the competition 15 times in all. Their trophy cabinet also boasts of 10 Jordan FA Cup titles, 12 Jordan Super Cup titles and 8 Jordan FA Shield titles. They made the semifinal of the AFC Cup in 2011 but couldn't get past the Round-of-16 in 2016.
The AFC Cup too has been given a tweak in format where the teams are divided in five regions. Should Bengaluru be relegated to the AFC Cup, they will be playing out of the South Region and will be clubbed with Maziya S&RC (Maldives), Abahani Limited Dhaka (Bangladesh) and one of Mohun Bagan, Colombo FC (Sri Lanka), Thimpu City (Bhutan) and Club Valencia (Maldives) who will battle it out in the preliminary stage of the cup.