Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings will host the postponed Group D matches of AFC Cup 2021 if the governing body of Asian football reschedules the fixture in August.
“We will take the chance of hosting Group D matches of AFC Cup 2021, if it reschedules the fixture in August,” the club’s president Imrul Hassan told The Daily Sun on Sunday.AFC asked the member associations -- Bangladesh, India and the Maldives --- in the South Asian zone to make a bid for hosting the playoff and group stage matches by May 28. The Daily Sun has known from a source that no member associations came forward in bidding due to the Covid-19 situation till the report was written.
India and the Maldives have been suffering a lot due to the pandemic. If the situation continues, neither country will be able to host the group stage. Even if the situation becomes normal, there will be doubts about whether they will be able to host an international meet in August.
On the other hand, the situation in Bangladesh is a little bit better than theirs. Due to a long-term lockdown, the country has been hosting international and domestic meets. If the crisis does not take a big shape, they will be able to host AFC Cup in August.
According to the new schedule, Kings will play against Maldivian club Maziya Sports and Recreation Club on June 30, the play-off winners of South Asia (between Club Eagles and Bengaluru Football Club) on July 3 and Indian team ATK Mohun Bagan on July 6. Meanwhile, the South Asian play-off will be held on June 27.
After publishing the reschedule, the Bangladeshi side have been requesting AFC through BFF to defer the group stage dates because they have rounds 18, 19 and 21 matches of the premier league during that time.
Imrul added that they want to play in the AFC Cup after ending BPL. “AFC has already rescheduled the fixture, so we have already requested them to defer the dates until BPL fully ends. It will also help us to get the venue (Bangabandhu National Stadium) available,” he concluded.However, AFC Cup Group D matches were originally scheduled to be held this month in the Maldives, but the hosts postponed the meet on May 9 as their government declared the lockdown and curfew due to the new variant of the COVID-19 outbreak.
After the sudden decision of postponement, Kings sent a letter to AFC with several propositions and requested them to declare the group champions on May 12 --- they proposed AFC to withdraw two Maldivian clubs as their federation was unable to host the matches, to take disciplinary actions against Bengaluru as they breached special rules of AFC regarding Covid-19 and to investigate or withdraw Mohun Bagan due to their unprofessional behaviour.
Kings further requested AFC to announce them as the zonal champions of the south zone as all the other teams were not willing to play matches, as per clause 54.1.3 of AFC Cup 2021.