AFC Cup finalists Bengaluru FC will begin their continental quest for the new season with an AFC Champions League Preliminary Stage 2 fixture against Jordanian club Al Wehdat SC in an away tie on January 31. An improved Member Ranking for India meant the Blues need not compete in a Preliminary Stage 1 game, needing them to win two single-legged ties to make the group stages.
Unlike the last two seasons, a tweak in the format sees Bengaluru playing out of the West Zone. The winner of the tie between Bengaluru and Al Wehdat will come up against Al Wahda of UAE in the play-off stage to be played on February 7. Defeat in either of the games will see Bengaluru drop down to the group stages of the AFC Cup.
Champions of the Jordan League for the last three seasons on the spin, Al Wehdat have won the competition 15 times in all. Their trophy cabinet also boasts of 10 FA Cup titles, 12 Super Cup titles and 8 FA Shield titles. They made the semifinal of the AFC Cup in 2011 but couldn’t get past the Round-of-16 in 2016.
The AFC Cup too has been given a tweak in format where the teams are divided in five regions. Should Bengaluru make the AFC Cup, they will be playing out of the South Region and will be clubbed with Maziya S&R (Maldives), Albani Dhaka Limited (Bangladesh) and one of Mohun Bagan, Colombo FC (Sri Lanka), Thimpu City (Bhutan) and Club Valencia (Maldives) who will battle it out in the Preliminary Stage of the Cup.
(Bengaluru FC Press Release)