AFC Cup 2021 Group D matches in Maldives postponed indefinitely

AFC Cup 2021 Postponed: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 2021 Group D matches were postponed indefinitely in the Maldives after the country’s Sports Minister Ahmed Mahloof requested the organising body to defer the group stage. AFC has asked participating clubs to make their own arrangements to return home while adhering to Covid-19 protocols.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 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,” AFC’s statement read. “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”.

The latest development comes after Maldives sports minister Ahmed Mahloof accused the Sunil Chhetri-led club of breaching Covid-19 restrictions. He asked the Indian Super League (ISL) side to return home as they would not be able to host the match that is scheduled for May 11. Apart from the South Asian Zone play-off, Maldives was supposed to host Group D matches from May 14.

Bengaluru FC owner Parth Jindal accepted the mistake and even apologised for the behaviours of the three foreign players. “On behalf of @bengalurufc I am extremely sorry for the inexcusable behaviour of three of our foreign players/staff while in Male – the strictest action will be taken against these players/staff. We have let @AFCCup down and can only say that this will never happen again,” he said.

 

AFC Cup 2021: Maldives’ Sports Minister accuses Bengaluru FC of breaching COVID-19 restrictions

Meanwhile, the Maldives sports minister has informed the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) that they cannot hold the match and have asked to make arrangements for BFC’s departure. “We have informed FAM that we cannot hold the match, and asked them to make arrangements for @bengalurufc’s departure. We will be in further correspondence with AFC through @MaldivesFA to postpone the group stage,” he wrote on his Twitter handle.

Mahloof had made the allegations after local media reports about the breach of Covid-19 protocols by BFC players. The country has restricted Indian travellers due to rising cases of Covid-19 in the country. But the ISL clubs were given exemption given their matches in the country. As per the guidelines, players need to be confined to a room and are only allowed to leave the room for a match or practice.

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But as per the reports, several players were seen taking photographs on the streets. One of the players who was spotted on the street was Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu. The players reached the Maldives on Friday.

AFC Cup 2021: Two ATKMB players test Covid-19 positive

Prabir Das and SK Sahil returned positive after all the team members underwent Covid-19 tests at a private hospital in Kolkata before their departure to Male for the Group D matches beginning on May 14. The club was asked to cancel their trip after the positive reported.

The information we have at present, ATK Mohun Bagan have been asked to cancel plans to travel to the Maldives for AFC Cup matches,” Kushal Das told Insidesport.

As per the AFC protocols, competing players will have to have negative Covid-19 reports two days prior to departure from their home base. ATKMB were scheduled to leave for Maldives on Monday.

Yes, Prabir Das and Sahil have tested positive and so they will be left out. All others have negative results,” a source in the ATKMB team told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

In their opening game on May 14, ATKMB are scheduled to face the winner of the play-off match between another ISL side Bengaluru FC and Eagles FC of Maldives to be played on Tuesday.