The Blues’ play-off game had been postponed for a while due to a delay in conducting the Abahani-Eagles match.

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC is one match away from qualification to the AFC Cup 2021. The team from Karnataka will take on Maldives-based Club Eagles in a play-off game, which is all set to happen on May 11. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) made the official announcement regarding the same on Friday afternoon.

AFC’s official statement

“In the AFC Cup South Zone, the AFC COVID-19 Sub-Committee for AFC Champions League and AFC Cup (West) has also noted the mounting challenges faced by Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited Dhaka in meeting the extended deadline to host their AFC Cup Preliminary Stage match against Club Eagles from Maldives.

Taking into careful consideration the exceptional circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the lockdown and travel restrictions in Bangladesh, the Sub-Committee decided that Abahani Limited Dhaka are considered to have withdrawn from the AFC Cup 2021 and that the situation constituted an event of force majeure.

The Sub-Committee also agreed to award the Playoff Stage slot to Club Eagles, who will now face India’s JSW Bengaluru FC for a place in the AFC Cup Group D on May 11, 2021 in Maldives.”

The story so far

Bengaluru FC played their AFC Cup Preliminary Stage match against Nepal’s Tribhuwan Army FC on April 14. The Blues emerged victorious by a scoreline of 5-0, thereby earning themselves the right to feature in the play-offs.

The winners of the Abahani-Eagles clash were supposed to be the second team to enter the play-offs. The game was set to take place at Dhaka on April 21, and the play-offs were scheduled for April 28. However, the Abahani-Eagles match could not happen on time due to the worsening COVID-19 situation in Bangladesh and the resultant countrywide lockdown and travel restrictions.

Khel Now understands that AFC had given Abahani an extended deadline to host the match. However, the club’s inability to meet that deadline resulted in them withdrawing from the competition. The Dhaka-outfit could not host the match because of the problems caused in the country by the outbreak of Coronavirus.

And now, as clarified in the official statement, Bengaluru FC will face Club Eagles in the play-off. The winner will join ATK Mohun Bagan, Basundhara Kings and Maziya S&RC in Group D of the AFC Cup 2021.

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