Bengaluru FC will join fellow Indian Super League (ISL) teams FC Goa and the newly merged ATK-Mohun Bagan as the three teams that will compete at the continental events, the All India Football Federation confirmed on Thursday. With FC Goa taking the AFC Champions League spot and ISL and I-League winners ATK-Mohun Bagan the AFC Cup spot, there was one remaining continental spot up for grabs – the AFC Cup Play-off spot. The AIFF, in a press release, announced that spot will go to Bengaluru FC as they finished third in the league stages of the ISL 2019-20. ISL 2020–21 Transfer News: Hyderabad FC Sign Subrata Paul on Two-Year Deal.

“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,” AIFF said in a statement. ISL 2020–21 Transfer News: Bengaluru FC Sign Pratik Chaudhari, Lalthuammawia Ralte.

This will also be the first time that no I-League teams will appear in the AFC continental tournaments. Mohun Bagan, who won the I-League title this season, were supposed to be the team from I-League taking one of the three spots reserved for Indian teams in AFC Cup competitions. Under normal circumstances, Bagan would have played in the AFC Cup group stages – now awarded to ATK-Mohun Bagan.

The AFP Cup group stage spot is usually awarded to I-League winner while the ISL winner takes the AFP Cup play-off spot and the additional AFC Champions League spot, in play from next season, goes to ISL league stage winners.

But with the Mariners merging with ISL team ATK for next season and beyond (the new entity will be known as ATK-Mohun Bagan), they had the option to choose either the AFC Cup group stages slot or the playoff spot. ATK-Mohun Bagan opted for the group stages of the AFC Cup leaving AIFF to decide which team will get the other remaining slot, which eventually went to Bengaluru FC.

Earlier, FC Goa has become the first Indian club to appear in the group stages of the AFC Champions League, which is Asia’s top club tournament and is an Asian version of the UEFA Champions League. Goa had finished as the league-stage winners of the ISL but had lost in the knockout stages to Chennaiyin FC.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 04, 2020 08:44 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website