Reports: Bengaluru FC not to release players for ISL season till AFC Cup completion
Indian champions Bengaluru FC have decided against releasing their players for the upcoming Indian Super League season while they are still involved in the AFC Cup competition. The team from India’s Garden City are set to take part in the knockout stages of the continental competition, whose quarter-finals are scheduled on 14th and 21st September.
The dates, however, clash with the pre-season of the Indian Super League (ISL), which normally sees its games start in the month of October. ISL stipulations had earlier maintained that all I-League teams release their players one month prior to the ISL. However, this would have meant that Bengaluru would have been without some of their crucial stars such as Sunil Chhetri, Eugensen Lyngdoh, Udanta Singh and Amrinder Singh amongst others with each of them contracted to various ISL franchises.
The South Indian side made history earlier this year when the reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time in their history. The reigning I-League champions scripted their progress to the last eight of the competition in memorable fashion. Their skipper Sunil Chhetri, who was playing with a suspect hamstring, struck a brace to help the Steelmen to a 3-2 win over Hong Kong-based side Kitchee FC.
Bengaluru, however, will be without their inspiring English head coach Ashley Westwood, who stepped down from the post last month after running the rules over the club in its first three years of existence since its inception in 2013. Under Ashley, the Sunil Chhetri led side won two I-Leagues and a Federation Cup.
The Steelmen are now pitted against Tampines Rovers in the last eight of the AFC Cup. Rovers themselves had to overcome another Indian opponent in the form of Mohun Bagan in their last round to punch their ticket for the quarter-final.
There were dark clouds hanging over Bengaluru FC's fate in the tournament with the ISL season looming large in the background. However, Parth Jindal, the owner of Bengaluru FC, clarified the situation on social media, saying the side from Karnataka will be at their full strength for their upcoming AFC Cup clash.
This, however, won’t be good news for the ISL franchises and it is expected that the franchise owners will be sitting down with the Bengaluru FC owners to reach a compensation where the player can also feature in India’s big footballing festival.