Pune FC up against Vietnam side in first round of ACL play-off
New Delhi: Pune FC will play against Vietnam champion Hanoi T&T at home in their first round match of the AFC Champions League play-off competition on February 2.
If Pune FC get past the first hurdle, they play against Muangthong United of Thailand in the second round on February 8 in Bangkok.
If the Indian side also win the second round match, they will play against Melbourne Victory of Australia in Melbourne on February 15 for a berth in the main round of AFC Champions League, where they will be clubbed alongside Al Ain (UAE), Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) and Tractorsazi Tabriz (Iran) in Group C.
The schedule of the play-off matches was announced at the draw ceremony of the AFC Champions League as well as AFC Cup in Kuala Lumpur today.
Pune FC were handed the opportunity to feature in the AFC Champions League play-offs as I-League champions Churchill Brothers are yet to fulfil AFC Club Licensing criteria. Pune FC, who finished second in the last season`s I-League, were in fact the lone club in the country to fulfil AFC Club Licensing criteria.
Dempo SC were the last Indian club to play in the play-offs of the AFC Champions League in 2011 when they lost to Qatar`s Al Sadd.
Two AFC Cup slots have also been allocated to India with a caveat that should Pune FC fail to qualify for the main round of the AFC Champions League via the play-offs, they will take up the one AFC Cup slot with I-League champions Churchill Brothers being the other.
However, if Pune FC make it to the 2014 AFC Champions League, the door will be open for East Bengal who finished third in the I-League last season.