S.League club Tampines Rovers will face an uphill battle on their road to qualification for next year’s AFC Champions League.
Tampines have been placed in the first round of preliminary matches and will begin their campaign with a clash against Global FC on January 24.
Should they emerge victorious, the Singapore-based side will go up against A-League club Brisbane Roar before taking on Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua in the final playoff.
No doubt that Tampines will have their backs against the wall in all those encounters, but to make things worse, if they lose one game against any of the aforementioned teams, their chances of competing in the AFC Champions League will go up in smoke and they will be back in the group stage of the AFC Cup.
As for I-League champions Bengaluru FC, they will begin their quest to qualify for the AFC Champions League in the second round of preliminary matches due to India’s improvement on the world rankings.
Bengaluru will go up against Jordanian club Al Wehdat SC on January 31 and if they should triumph, they will then meet UAE club Al Wahda in the playoff stage on February 7.
If the India-based side fail to qualify for the elite competition in Asia, they will go back to competing in the AFC Cup, which has been tweaked for the upcoming year as teams will be divided into five regions.
As a result of this, if Bengaluru were to be in the AFC Cup, they will be in the same group as Maziya S&R (Maldives), Albani Dhaka Limited (Bangladesh) and one of the following clubs – Mohun Bagan (India), Colombo FC (Sri Lanka), Thimpu City (Bhutan) or Club Valencia (Maldives).