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AFC Cup matches likely to go ahead, ATK Mohun Bagan to miss star players

10:38 AM EDT 5/6/21
Manvir Singh, ATK Mohun Bagan vs NorthEast United
The AFC has decided to conduct the AFC Cup Group D matches despite Maldives' plea to postpone the competition due to rising COVID-19 cases...

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has decided to go ahead and conduct the matches of AFC Cup Group D in the Maldives, Goal can confirm.

Earlier today, Goal had reported that The Maldives FA had initiated talks with the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) to postpone the AFC Cup matches of Group D because of the worsening Coronavirus situation in the country.

Ahmed Mahloof, Maldives' Minister for Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, confirmed the development on social media. 

There is doubt over the arrival of the foreign contingent of ATK Mohun Bagan including coach Antonio Lopez Habas and his coaching staff. Key foreigners like Roy Krishna and David Williams are also likely to miss the competition.

While Krishna is not likely to arrive due to the ongoing nationwide lockdown in Fiji, Williams' arrival is also doubtful as Australia have banned incoming flights to the country from India. It remains to be seen if these two players can take part in the competition.

ATK Mohun Bagan custodian Arindam Bhattacharya is also likely to stay back in Kolkata as his mother has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and is undergoing treatment at the moment.

The Mariners will undergo a COVID-19 test in a private hospital in Kolkata on May 7 before they travel to the Maldives.

Bengaluru FC, who are set to play their play-offs tie against Madlives' Club Eagles on May 11, will travel to the country on May 7. They are currently in Goa in a bio-bubble.

Maldives is witnessing a sharp rise in cases after mid-April and keeping in mind public health and players' safety, the football association wants the matches to be postponed to a later date when conditions improve. 

On April 16, the countr had registered just 82 cases along with a seven-day average of 84 cases per day. But since then, the numbers have shot up astronomically and on May 5, there were 734 new cases in the country. The numbers are increasing at an alarming rate which has forced Maldives FA to request AFC to postpone the games.