THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Two Indian clubs in the fray as AFC Cup 2021 action beckons


Indian club football action returns in August with the arrival of the AFC Cup 2021, with potentially two Indian clubs – ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC in action in the competition’s Group Stage (South) from August 18-24, 2021.

Group D consists of ATK Mohun Bagan FC, Maziya Sports & Recreation from the Maldives, and Bangladeshi side Bashundhara Kings, along with the winner of the South Asia Play-Off match between Bengaluru FC, who are 2016 AFC Cup runners-up, and Maldives’ Club Eagles. The play-off fixture will take place on August 15, 2021, in Male.

ATK Mohun Bagan are direct entrants to the group stage of the AFC Cup 2021 by virtue of being winners of the Hero I-League 2019-20, after their agreement to form a joint venture, and will be confident of making a mark on the continental stage and move forward together.

Bengaluru FC earned their AFC Cup 2021 Preliminary Round 2 entry by virtue of a third-place finish in the Hero Indian Super League’s league phase in 2019-20 and defeated Nepal’s Tribhuvan Army FC 5-0 in April 2021 to enter the play-off round. On Monday (August 9, 2021), they announced a 29-man squad for the clash against Club Eagles, which will be led by Indian national team skipper Sunil Chhetri.

The teams in Group D will face off against each other in a single-leg round-robin format across three matchdays — August 18, 21 and 24, with all matches being held in the Maldives. The eventual group winner will proceed to the next round, which is the single-leg Inter-Zone Semi-final.

The Group D fixtures are as below:

August 18: Bashundhara Kings vs Maziya Sports & Recreation
August 18: ATK Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC/Club Eagles
August 21: Maziya Sports & Recreation vs ATK Mohun Bagan
August 21: Bengaluru FC/Club Eagles vs Bashundhara Kings
August 24: Maziya Sports & Recreation vs Bengaluru FC/Club Eagles
August 24: ATK Mohun Bagan vs Bashundhara Kings

(AIFF Media)