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The Mariano Dias-led club might feature in Asia’s second tier club competition this season given that Dempo have been ruled out already...

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) are to Churchill Brothers SC to be India’s representative in the AFC Cup alongside East Bengal after Dempo SC refused to participate in the competition given that their matches cannot be played in Goa.

With the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium being unavailable due to the ongoing renovation work for the Lusofonia Games next year, Goa doesn’t have any other stadium which fulfils the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) criterion.

Dempo have in the past played their AFC Cup ties at Gacchibowli Stadium, Hyderabad and Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune. However the club management believed that playing their home matches away from Goa wasn’t worth the effort given the low turnout of spectators and the huge costs involved.

They proposed that the games could be hosted at the Tilak Maidan at Vasco however the stadium doesn’t even come close to fulfilling the AFC norms.

The AFC have rejected Dempo’s proposal and have suggested the AIFF to name a replacement for the I-League champions.

Since the winners of the I-League (Dempo SC) and Federation Cup (East Bengal) automatically make it into the AFC Cup, the AIFF would request Churchill Brothers, who finished third in the league last season to participate in the competition as the Red and Gold had finished as runner-up in the league too.

It has also been mulled that should Churchill refuse to be a part of the AFC Cup, Mohun Bagan, who finished fourth last season, are the next line who might be requested to be India’s representative in place of Dempo in the competition.

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