Maldives to host AFC Cup ties involving Bengaluru FC, ATK Mohun Bagan

The play-off match between BFC and Club Eagles will be held on August 15 while the Group D matches will be played the following week.

By Naveen Peter

After a series of delays, the South Asian zone matches of the AFC Cup 2021 will be held in the Maldives next month.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), on Monday, confirmed that the play-off match between India’s Bengaluru FC and Club Eagles of Maldives will be played on August 15.

The winner of the tie will join ATK Mohun Bagan (India), Maziya S&RC (Maldives) and Bashundhara Kings (Bangladesh) in Group D of the AFC Cup.

The group stage matches will also be played in the Maldives over three days -- August 18, 21 and 24.

Initially scheduled to be held in India, Bengaluru FC’s AFC Cup play-off tie in April was postponed following the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The match was then slated to be played in the Maldives in May but had to be postponed again after a few members of the Bengaluru team violated COVID-19 protocols in the island nation.

Into their off-season, the Sunil Chhetri-led Bengaluru FC have been busy strengthening their squad for the upcoming season. 

The former Indian Super League (ISL) champions have signed Congolese striker Prince Ibara and 19-year-old Harmanpreet Singh to address their goalscoring woes from last season.

Indian international defender Sarthak Golui and Brazilian centre-back Alan Costa are the other big signings for BFC so far.

Kolkata-based ATK Mohun Bagan too have had a busy transfer season. They have roped in some top performers in the Indian domestic season. 

Joining the Mariners this season are Liston Colaco from Hyderabad FC, Ashutosh Mehta from NorthEast United, Bidyananda Singh, Hugo Boumous and Amrinder Singh from Mumbai City and Phalguni Singh from TRAU FC. 

Also joining ATK Mohun Bagan for the upcoming season is Finnish midfielder Joni Kauko, who was a part of the Finland squad at Euro 2020.

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