Bangladesh Premier League champions Bashundhara Kings will play their Group D matches of the AFC Cup in Male from May 14 to 20 after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced the Maldivian capital as a centralised venue to host the matches on Monday.
The three confirmed participants – Kings, Maziya Sports & Recreation Club of Maldives and ATK Mohun Bagan -- had bidden to host the group stage in their respective countries, but the AFC confirmed Male as the venue following 'close consultation with its participating member associations'.
Bangladesh could have a fourth team in the group in the form of Abahani, who will have to qualify for the fourth spot through two playoff matches. Six teams from the South Asia zone will battle for that single playoff place.
ISL side Bengaluru FC will face the winners of the qualifying play-off preliminary round one clash between Nepal Army Club and Sri Lanka Police in preliminary round two. In the other preliminary round two clash, Abahani will face the winners of Maldives' Eagles and Bhutan's Thimphu City. Both matches will be played on April 14.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh will have to wait a little longer to learn whether they can host Afghanistan in their sixth World Cup/Asian Cup qualifying fixture on March 25 in Sylhet. The AFC yesterday asked BFF and Afghanistan Football Association to negotiate the issue among the two member nations.
The Asian football body also asked BFF to once against consider Afghanistan's appeal of playing the match at a centralised venue in June, but BFF, according to its general secretary Abu Nayeem Shohag, is still trying to convince the Afghans to come to Bangladesh to play.