Football: Chhetri’s Bengaluru FC benefit from Bagan-ATK merger, will play in AFC Cup play-off

Bengaluru FC benefitted from the recent merger of I-League champions Mohun Bagan and ATK as they got a play-offs spot in upcoming season’s AFC Cup despite finishing third in the Indian Super League.

FC Goa have got a direct berth in the group stage of the continent’s top tier club competition, AFC Champions League as league phase winners of ISL. The Goan side are the first Indian club to do so.

The I-League champions get a direct berth in the continent’s second tier club competition, the AFC Cup, and thus the merged ATK-Mohun Bagan side will avail that slot.

The ISL league stage runners-up side were to get the play-offs berth of the AFC Cup. But since runners-up ATK have merged with Mohun Bagan, the Sunil Chettri-led Bengaluru FC, which have finished third in the league phase of ISL, will get the AFC Cup play-offs berth.

This was confirmed by All India Football Federation on Thursday.

“FC Goa, as the winner of the Hero ISL league phase for season 2019-20, get direct entry in the group stage of AFC Champions League. ATK-Mohun Bagan (after their agreement to form a joint venture) as a direct entrant in the group stage of AFC Cup on virtue of being winners of the Hero I-League 2019-20,” the AIFF said.

“The AFC Cup play-off slot goes to Bengaluru FC who finished third in the Hero ISL league phase in 2019-20. ATK, who finished runners-up in the league phase of the Hero ISL 2019-20, as per their joint venture with Mohun Bagan, qualify automatically for the direct slot for the AFC Cup.”