AFC Champions League and AFC Cup 2020 draws: Chennai City FC and Bengaluru FC learn preliminary round opponents
I-League champions Chennai City FC will open their AFC Champions League qualifying campaign with a home clash in Preliminary Round 1 against Bahrain's Riffa Sports Club.
The I-League champions said that the venue for their clash, scheduled to be held on the 14th of January, will be confirmed soon.
To make it into the group stages of the AFC Champions League, Chennai City have to negotiate three rounds (two preliminary rounds and one playoff round). If they beat Riffa, they will face Iran's Shahr Khodro FC away in the second preliminary round, and if they win that too, they face an away clash against Al Sailiya SC of Qatar, in the playoff round. All of Chennai City's AFC Champions League qualifiers are single-legged affairs.
No Indian club has ever made it into the group stages of the AFC Champions League, and the current I-League champions, too, have a tough path if they wish to go where no other Indian club has, before.
ISL champions Bengaluru FC, meanwhile, will play either Paro FC from Bhutan or Defenders FC from Sri Lanka in a two-legged tie in the AFC Cup's second preliminary qualifying round. The two ties will be played on the 5th and 12th of February, with Bengaluru playing the first leg away from home.
If they win that game, Bengaluru will face a two-legged playoff against either Maldivian side Maziya or Bangladeshi side Abahani Dhaka, who made the knockout rounds of the 2019 AFC Cup, at the expense of two Indian sides, in Chennaiyin FC and Minerva Punjab FC.
Bengaluru will again play the second leg at home, if they qualify for the playoff round.
If Bengaluru qualify for the group stages, they will be clubbed with TC Sports Club from the Maldives, Bashundhara Kings from Bangladesh, and either Chennai City or FC Goa.
FC Goa would only be in the AFC Cup, if Chennai City make the group stages of the Champions League. Otherwise, the I-League champions and the ISL champions will clash against TC Sports Club and Bashundhara Kings in Group E of the 2020 AFC Cup.
After a one-year hiatus, Bengaluru are back in Asian competition, and will look to once again perform well in a competition that has seen them make the final in 2016, the inter-zone final in 2017, and the inter-zone semifinal in 2018.Published 10 Dec 2019, 15:07 IST