The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has postponed the Group D matches of the AFC Cup following reports of a breach of COVID-19 protocols by Bengaluru FC in Maldives' capital Male. This has brought in a sense if relief in the ATK Mohun Bagan camp which saw two of its Indian players Prabir Das and Sheikh Sahil test positive for COVID-19.
ATK Mohun Bagan was scheduled to leave for Maldives on Monday to play the Group D matches. "We have confirmation from AFC that the matches are being postponed. This is a relief for the team as we had to leave behind two of our regular players who have tested positive of Coronavirus during the screening process ahead of our departure for Maldives," said an ATK Mohun Bagan official on Sunday. The team was likely to miss a few of its foreign players, who could not leave the country owing to restrictions imposed in their respective countries.
The AFC had confirmed the postponement of the group matches without specifying any reason. "Asian Football Confederation can confirm that the AFC Cup (South) Group D matches, which were scheduled to take place from May 14 to 21, 2021, will not be held in Male, Maldives.
Participating clubs who have travelled to Maldives will be required to arrange for their return home while adhering to the COVID-19 health and travel protocols put in place by the country. At the same time, the AFC is in contact with all other participating clubs and officials who have not entered the Maldives to cancel their travel arrangements," it said in a statement.
"The AFC Cup (South) Group Stage matches are now postponed until further notice with more information to be announced in due course," it added.
Bengaluru FC was in Male to play the AFC Cup play-off match against local side Eagles FC, scheduled on May 11. The match became doubtful after Maldives’ sports minister asked Bengaluru FC to leave the country alleging a breach of COVID-19 protocols. The winner of the play-off was supposed to complete the Group D line up, which had ATK Mohun Bagan, Maziya FC (Maldives) and Basundhara Kings (Bangladesh) as direct entrants.
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