Bangladesh Premier League runners-up Dhaka Abahani Limited suffered a massive blow as they were excluded from AFC Cup 2021 after failing to host their match against Club Eagles from Maldives.
AFC also rewarded Club Eagles with the play-off spot as they will now play against Bengaluru FC on May 11 for a place in the AFC Cup group stage in Maldives. The Group D matches will be held on May 14-20 in Maldives.The announcement was made on the official website of Asian Football Confederation on Friday.
“In the AFC Cup South Zone, the AFC Covid-19 Sub-Committee for AFC Champions League and AFC Cup (West) has also noted the mounting challenges faced by Bangladesh’s Abahani Limited Dhaka in meeting the extended deadline to host their AFC Cup Preliminary Stage match against Club Eagles from Maldives,” AFC said in the press release.
“Taking into careful consideration the exceptional circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular the lockdown and travel restrictions in Bangladesh, the Sub-Committee decided that Abahani Limited Dhaka are considered to have withdrawn from the AFC Cup 2021 and that the situation constituted an event of force majeure,” it added.
Abahani expressed their shock after the sudden decision made by AFC and they requested AFC to reconsider their decision.
“We wanted to host Club Eagles at home and were preparing to host them on May 5. We also told them to play an away match against the club. But we are shocked with the sudden decision of AFC and we requested them to reconsider their decision,” Abahani said on their official Facebook page on Friday.
The match was initially scheduled to be held on April 14 but the lockdown and travel restrictions, announced by the Bangladesh government, deferred the match by a week.As the lockdown and travel restrictions were extended again for two more weeks, Abahani were toiling to host the match in Dhaka in current circumstances.
However, Abahani requested AFC to arrange the match either in Maldives or India and lastly, they gave a proposal to host the match on May 5 as the lockdown is likely to end on the same day.