Bengaluru FC's AFC Cup playoff to be held in Maldives in August

Bengaluru FC players celebrates a goal against SC East Bengal during the ISL 2020-21 season. Arjun Singh/Sportzpics for ISL

Bengaluru FC's (BFC) AFC Cup play-off match will be held in Maldives in August, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced in a statement on Monday.

BFC, who finished as the runner-up in the AFC Cup in 2016, will take on Maldives' Club Eagles on August 15 in the play-off match. The winners of the match will join ATK Mohun Bagan, Maziya Sports & Recreation from Maldives and Bangladesh's Bashundhara Kings in Group D.

The AFC Cup (South) Group D matches will be held across three match days on August 18, 21 and 24. The team that tops the group will advance to the single-leg Inter Zonal Semi Final.

The AFC Cup is Asia's second-tier annual continental club competition (below the AFC Champions League).

Bengaluru FC only made it to the qualification rounds of the 2021 AFC Cup due to the unique circumstances surrounding their compatriots, ATK Mohun Bagan. ATK had won the right to contest playoffs after finishing second in the ISL 2019-20 league stage, while Mohun Bagan had won direct entry into the group stages by virtue of winning the I-League 2019-20. However, the clubs joined forces to form ATK Mohun Bagan in 2020-21 and the combined entity was awarded the direct group spot. This meant the team which finished third in the ISL league stages, Bengaluru FC, got the playoff spot.