BFC travel to Male despite unrest for AFC Cup Playoff

Bengaluru FC (BFC) have decided to go ahead with their trip to Maldives for their AFC Cup playoff first leg match against TC Sports Club on February 13 despite the unrest reportedly prevailing in parts of the country. Media reports had emerged on Sunday morning of the Ministry of External Affairs advising BFC to defer their travel to Male for the match, in keeping with a February 5 advisory that asked Indian nationals to "defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls under further notice".

However, ESPN understands that the club was left with no choice after having written to AFC earlier in the week and not received any clarification about the status of the match. Avoiding travel may have been taken as a forfeiture of the first leg, which according to AFC rules would have then been given as a 3-0 win to TC Sports.

Club insiders felt BFC had already set a precedent with their travel to North Korea for their Inter-Zone semi-final tie last June against 4.25 SC, and the Maldives National Defence Force have reportedly written to the AFC assuring BFC the "highest consideration" in terms of security arrangements.

BFC, who beat Transport United of Bhutan 3-0 on aggregate in the first round of playoff games, confirmed their place in the Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs on February 9 with a 2-0 win over FC Goa. The club, which normally updates their latest squad for every game on their official website is yet to provide the same for this AFC Cup clash.

The return leg against TC Sports Club is scheduled for Bengaluru on February 20.