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East Bengal set to face Altyn Asyr in AFC Asian Champions League Two Qualifier

Published at :June 14, 2024 at 10:11 PM
Modified at :June 19, 2024 at 7:24 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

East Bengal were crowned Super Cup champions last season.

East Bengal are poised to host Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr in the 2024-25 AFC Asian Champions League Two Preliminary Round 3 clash on 14 August, 2024, as per reports. The Red & Gold Brigade will have the right to play this match at the Salt Lake Stadium and have a big chance of qualifying for the newly-structured ACL Two for the first time.

The winners of this preliminary round 3 qualifier will be granted a place in the AFC Champions League II group stages. There is a strong chance that East Bengal are placed in the same group as rivals Mohun Bagan in the ACL Two group if they’re able to win their qualifier and book a place in the tournament.

Interestingly, Altyn Asyr did not win the Turkmenistan FA Cup or the top-division title last season. That was won by FK Arkadag. But Arkadag reportedly does not have the necessary club licenses to play in the AFC Champions League II and can only play in the AFC Challenge Cup – which is the third tier of continental football in Asia.

As a result, Altyn Asyr, who finished as the runners-up in the 2018 AFC Cup, are expected to be granted their place and represent Turkmenistan instead. They will be meeting East Bengal or any ISL side for the first time in this crucial qualifier. Asyr finished in second place in the Yokary Liga (Turkmenistan top division) behind FK Arkadag, who enjoyed an invincible campaign and didn’t lose a single of their 24 league games.

Whoever wins the game between the Kolkata heavyweights and the Turkmenistan side will of course play in the AFC Champions League Two next season, but the losers will also be granted a place in the group stages of the AFC Challenge Cup.  

East Bengal earned a chance to qualify for the ACL Two 2024-25 edition after winning the Kalinga Super Cup earlier this year. They defeated hosts Odisha FC in a thrilling final to win their first major domestic trophy after a 12-year drought.

Carles Cuadrat’s side are currently strengthening their squad for the upcoming campaign. They recently announced the signing of former Kerala Blasters forward Dimitrios Diamantakos to significantly improve their goal-scoring options.

East Bengal are poised to begin their pre-season campaign soon. They are expected to part take in the 2024 Durand Cup, which will be held from 26 July to 30 August. They’ll probably treat the Durand Cup to prepare themselves for the continental game on 14 August.

Carles Cuadrat has experience of facing Altyn Asyr. That is because, in 2018, his Bengaluru FC side lost the AFC Cup inter-zonal semi-finals against the Turkmenistan side by a 5-2 margin. He’ll aim for revenge this time and guide East Bengal to play in their first AFC competition in nearly a decade.   

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