Bengaluru FC has been awarded a spot in the qualifying stages of AFC Cup 2021 after ISL champions ATK relinquished theirs in light of the ATK-Mohun Bagan merger.
After a lot of discussions on the awarding of AFC Champions League and AFC Cup spots, the All India Football Federation decided that three places will be up for grabs to teams from both the ISL and the I-League.
The table-toppers of the Indian Super League league stage get a direct entry into the group stage of the AFC Champions League while the winners of the I-League are given a spot in the group stage of the AFC Cup. The ISL champions get a place in the qualifying stages of the AFC Cup.
After the merger between 2019-20 ISL champions ATK and 2019-20 I-League champions Mohun Bagan, ATK-Mohun Bagan had to choose which spot they would be taking to represent India in the Asian competitions alongside FC Goa next season.
Bengaluru FC to join FC Goa and ATK-Mohun Bagan as third ISL team in Asia
After ATK-MB chose the AFC Cup group stage, the qualifying stage spot for the 2021 AFC Cup was left vacant. It was expected that AFC would give Chennaiyin FC, the runners-up of the ISL 2019-20 the place.
But in a turnaround, AFC have decided to award the qualifying stages spot based on the league standings rather than the knockout stages. Hence Bengaluru FC made the cut ahead of the 2-time ISL champions.
Bengaluru FC delivered the worst performance for an Indian football club in the AFC Cup as they were knocked out in the qualifying playoffs after a penalty shoot-out in the 2019-20 season. But the club also reached the final of the 2016 AFC Cup, only narrowly missing out on winning the prestigious competition.
Carles Cuadrat will be hoping to replicate his predecessor Albert Roca in the continental stages of the 2021 AFC Cup and maybe go one better with his all-star squad.
Here are the three clubs representing India in Asian competitions next season
#1 FC Goa: AFC Champions League group stage
#2 ATK-MB: AFC Cup group stage
#3 Bengaluru FC: AFC Cup play-off stagePublished 04 Jun 2020, 19:53 IST