AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC set to travel to Maldives amidst political unrest to take on TC Sports
After having consolidated a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over FC Goa, Bengaluru FC must now prepare to play TC Sports Club (Trust and Care Football Club) in an AFC Cup 2018 playoff encounter.
However, the game may be the least of their worries with the country plunged into a 15-day state of emergency. The country's President, Abdulla Yameen, had refused to comply with a Supreme Court decision that had ordered the release of a number of leaders in the opposition on the grounds that their "trials were politically motivated".
"Indian nationals are advised to defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice." - Indian government's statement
"Nothing has been confirmed yet," Bengaluru coach Albert Roca said at the press conference after the win over FC Goa.
"We have asked them what the situation is like there [in Maldives]. We would just like to go there and play the game. These are circumstances that we cannot control.
"Let's see, you know," Roca concluded. "The board has to tell me now what the situation is." Another source at the club did say that the squad would be travelling for the game in the island nation.
This isn't the first time they are travelling to Male. Previous AFC Cup campaigns had seen them play Maziya Sports and Recreation Club in the group stages in 2015 and in 2017.
Not the first time Bengaluru FC have faced issues abroad
Situations where circumstances that are not in their control is not a new phenomenon that has gripped the Indian Super League side. They have experienced far worse on other trips abroad during their AFC Cup commitments - be it natural or manmade.
When they had travelled to North Korea to face Pyongyang club 4.25 SC in the AFC Cup inter-zone semi-finals last year, they were in for a shock when the military test-fired a missile in close proximity to where they were staying.
"The last day of our visit there was a missile getting fired off over our hotel room. You can't exactly prepare for something like that!" - Erik Paartalu
The Blues had also experienced an earthquake when they had travelled to Tajikistan last season when they took on FC Istiklol in September 2017 in the inter-zone play-off final.
On the game itself, the Spanish coach did say that there could be more rotation after he rested players for the ISL match.
"We have another competition just in three days," he explained. So we have to see that the players who haven't played have the opportunity to try and get a good result in Maldives."
Bengaluru are set to play TC Sports on 13 February with the return leg at the Kanteerava Stadium on 20 February.