After rise in club rankings, Aizawl FC to be first Indian side in AFC Champions League playoffs
What’s the story?
With a lot of confusion reining around Aizawl FC’s upcoming 2018 AFC Champions League campaign, the club has finally confirmed their opponents in the playoff spots for Asia’s top club-level tournament.
The reigning I-League champions confirmed that they will be facing Iranian side Zob Ahan FC in the West Region playoff of the 2018 AFC Champions League, on January 30, 2018.
In case you didn’t know…
Aizawl FC have been a breath of fresh air in Indian football after they became the first team from the North-Eastern region of the country to win the league. Their victory in the I-League afforded them a shot at an entry into the 2018 AFC Champions League, as they are set to take part in the playoffs.
Heart of the matter
While there was large-scale confusion surrounding Aizawl’s next opponents, the club confirmed on their official Twitter handle that they will be facing Iranian side Zob Ahan FC, in January.
However, the main confusion regarding this comes from the fact that Indian clubs are not set to get direct entry into the playoff spots from the 2018 AFC Champions League. Clubs from the country are set to get direct playoff qualification due to the rise in India’s MA rankings with the AFC, but that is not set to take effect before the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Till the 2018 edition of the competition, Indian clubs are only set to play in the Champions League playoffs, once they clear the first two Preliminary Rounds of the competition.
Aizawl FC officials, however, confirmed to Sportskeeda that the club will indeed be playing in the Champions League playoffs against Zob Ahan FC, on January 30, next year.
With the announcement of this fixture, yet another problem has cropped up for Aizawl FC – they are set to play East Bengal at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, just one day prior to the date when their Champions League playoff has been scheduled.
There seems to be largescale confusion surrounding the Champions League playoffs, especially with regards to Aizawl FC. Aditionally, their task has been made all the more tougher due to the fact that they are set to play two matches on back-to-back dates, in two different countries.