Bengaluru FC too have chance to qualify for the Group D games if they manage to win their playoff games.
The Asian Football Confederation have finally come to a conclusion and have confirmed the hosts for the upcoming AFC Cup 2021. The decision took a lot of time as there was a heavy bidding war going on, but with the help of their Participating Member Associations, they have taken the final call.
There were a lot of rumours about Kolkata being selected as the host city for the group matches of South Zone Group D which includes ATK Mohun Bagan from the Indian Super League, Bashundhara Kings from Bangladesh, Maziya Sports and Recreation from the Maldives and they will be joined by the winner of the South Zone Playoff. However, to the disappointment of the Indian football fans, AFC have given the hosting rights for the Maldives and the matches from the group stage will be played in Male which is the capital city of Maldives.
Last season’s ISL champions ATK Mohun Bagan have already qualified for the AFC Cup and will be looking to give a good account for themselves. Meanwhile, Bengaluru FC who finished third in the league last season will have to go through the playoff and earn their place in this group. Both the Indian teams would have preferred to play in India especially during the times of a pandemic, but now they will have to acclimatise and get on with it.
Meanwhile, the West Zone matches in Group A, which includes Al Hidd Club (BHR), Al Nasr (OMA), Al Wahda (SYR) and defending champions Al Ahed FC (LBN) will be hosted in Manama, Bahrain. Whereas the Group B matches will go underway at Amman, Jordan featuring teams like Al Ansar FC (LBN), Muharraq Club (BHR), Al Salt (JOR) and Balata Center (PLE) as well as Group C, which consists of Al Faisaly (JOR), Al Seeb Club (OMA), Tishreen (SYR) and the winner of the West Zone Play-off match.
Group E matches will be Kyrgyz Republic with Dordoi FC being the host club for teams like Ahal FC (TKM) and FC Ravshan (TJK). While Dushanbe is selected as the host city for Group F matches which includes teams like FC Alay (KGZ), Altyn Asyr FC (TKM), FC Khujand (TJK) and the representative of Uzbekistan, AGMK FC or FC Nasaf, which will be decided after the AFC Champions League 2021 playoff match.
In the ASEAN zone, Singapore will host two groups, Group H and I with teams like Kedah Darul Aman (MAS), Lion City Sailors (SIN), Saigon (VIE) and the ASEAN Zone playoff 2 winner. While Group I features Geylang International FC (SIN), Kaya FC-Iloilo (PHI), Terengganu FC (MAS) and the representative of Myanmar, Shan United FC or Ayeyawady United FC, depending on the results of the AFC Champions League 2021 Preliminary and playoff matches.
For the East Zone clubs, AFC selected Hong Kong as the host and Group J comprises teams like Athletic 220 FC (MNG), Eastern Long Lions (HKG), Lee Man (HKG) and Tainan City FC (TPE). The AFC could not decide the hosts for the Group G matches which they obviously will reveal at a later date.