Six-time professional league champions Abahani will participate in the play-off stage of the upcoming AFC Cup as 2018-19 champions Bashundhara Kings were given direct entry into the group stages following the cancelation of last edition of Asia's second-tier club competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kings have been placed in Group D alongside former I League champions ATK Mohun Bagan, Maldives Premier League champions Maziya S&RC and the winners of play-off stage featuring six teams -- Abahani, JSW Bengaluru FC of India, Club Eagles of Maldives, Tribhuvan Army FC of Nepal, SL Police SC of Sri Lanka and Thimphu City FC of Bhutan.
The draw for the 2021 edition was held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The matches of Group D will be held from May 14-20 in single-leg round robin format at a centralised venue, which will be decided based on bidding.
However, Abahani will start their campaign by taking on the winners between Thimphu City FC and Club Eagles on April 14 in Dhaka. If the Sky Blues win their first match, they will face the winners of another group comprising JSW Bengaluru, Tribhuvan Army FC and SL Police SC on April 20.