Bengaluru FC bag last remaining AFC Cup spot from India
Bengaluru FC will make a return to continental football after they were awarded the third and last remaining spot reserved for Indian clubs in competitions of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
While Indian Super League (ISL) league toppers FC Goa will be the first Indian club to play in the group stage of the AFC Champions League, the newly-merged ATK Mohun Bagan will play in the AFC Cup group stages.
ATK Mohun Bagan had the option of taking a spot in the AFC Cup play-offs or the group stages as ATK had won the ISL and Bagan had won the I-League before their decision to merge.
The club decided to opt for a direct group stage entry, reserved for the club winning the I-League title.
As a result, the last remaining spot in AFC competitions was awarded to Bengaluru FC, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced in a press release. Bengaluru had finished third in the ISL league standings behind Goa and ATK last season. The club had also finished runners-up in the 2016 AFC Cup, losing to Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in the final. No other Indian club has ever reached the final of the competition.
This will also mark the first time that no I-League club will be involved in AFC competitons.