Today, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that AFC Cup 2021 will take place in the Maldives for the Playoff and Group Stage (South) matches.
Runners-up of the 2016 AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC will face the Maldivian Club Eagles on August 15. The winners of this match will join Group D. Group D will also contain ATK Mohun Bagan FC from India, Maziya Sports & Recreation from the Maldives, and the 2020-21 Bangladesh Federation Cup winners Bashundhara Kings. On August 18, 21, and 24, there will be three match days dedicated to the AFC Cup (South) Group D matches. The eventual winners of the group will advance to the Inter-Zone Semifinal which consists of a single leg.
Maldives had been scheduled to host the AFC Cup 2021 Group D and playoff matches in May. However, due to COVID-19, the AFC later postponed the games. After a recent change in the situation, the Maldives will once again host the tournament.
So far, both ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC have gone about strengthening their respective squads by adding new players in the off-season transfer window and retaining key players from last season. Mariners have brought aboard Amrinder Singh, Liston Colaco, Joni Kauko and Hugo Boumous. Besides signing Alan Costa, Prince Ibara, and other young attacking talents, the Blues have also extended the contracts of Sunil Chhetri, Suresh Wangjam, and Yrondu Musavu-King.