Amidst the on-going tensions due to the state of emergency in the island country of Maldives, India’s Bengaluru FC have arrived at a decision regarding their tie against the Maldivian outfit TC Sports Club that is to be played in Male. The JSW owned team, “is travelling on Sunday afternoon to the Maldives for the AFC Cup play-off tie this week,” confirmed an official from the club.
The Sunil Chhetri led Bengaluru FC, who domestically are playing their first ever season in the Indian Super League, have qualified for the play-off stages of the competition with three games still in hand in the league stages.
The first leg of the AFC Cup tie between Bengaluru FC and TC Sports Club is slated for Tuesday, February 13th, while the return leg of the tie will be played in Bangalore on February 20th.
The losing finalists of the 2016 AFC Cup, on Saturday, had been advised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) of the Indian Government to “strictly adhere” to the MEA’s travel advisory issued on February 5th, which advises Indian nationals to “defer all non-essential travels to the island nation until further notice”.
In a letter to Bengaluru FC, MEA under-secretary (Maldives, Indian Ocean Region) Sushil Prasad had written: “This is in reference to the newspaper article… in The Indian Express Delhi edition of Saturday about the visit of Bengaluru FC to Male to play a match of Asian Football Confederation Cup against TC Sports Club of Male at National Stadium in Male on February 13, 2018… Since the state of emergency imposed in the Republic of Maldives since February 5, 2018, India has issued a travel advisory… advising Indian nationals to defer their trip to the Maldives until further notice. Bengaluru FC is advised to adhere to it strictly and defer their proposed visit to the Maldives.”
Before that, The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) had written to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), assuring Bengaluru FC the ‘highest consideration’. The AFC on their part has conveyed this information to the Indian club.
Lt Colonel Ahmed Thohir, Principal Director, Directorate of Administration and Personnel Services, wrote to the AFC promising full support ahead of the fixture.
The MNDF letter, dated February 8, stated: “This is to certify that the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) will be providing the required and necessary assistance and support to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and Football Association of Maldives for the upcoming match of Bengaluru FC of India against TC Sports Club of Maldives to be played on 13th February 2018 in Male City in AFC Cup qualifying 2018. MNDF assures its highest consideration in the above matter.”
The return leg of this playoff fixture will be played in Bangalore on February 20th at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium with the winners of the tie earning a place in the group stages of the AFC Cup.
In case Bengaluru FC had not travelled and was forced to forfeit the match, TC Sports Club would be awarded an automatic 3-0 win, leaving their opponents with a rather daunting task a week later.
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Source URL: Google News