AFC Champions League
Bashundhara Kings set to battle against Messi and Ronaldo’s teammate
Kings will take on UAE club Sharjah FC in the preliminary round match on 15 August, a club where a teammate of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is currently playing.
Bangladesh’s leading club Bashundhara Kings are set to become the country’s first football club to compete in the AFC Champions League when they take on UAE club Sharjah FC in the West Zone preliminary round match on 15 August in the UAE, announced the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on its website on Wednesday.
The winner of that match will move on to the playoff match against Iranian Club Tractor FC and the winner of that playoff will qualify for the main phase of the AFC Champions League.
For the Kings, getting past Sharjah FC, who finished seventh in the 2022-23 UAE league, and Tractor FC, who finished fourth in the last season of the Persian league, is highly improbable. Whatever the result, the Kings will be making history right when they step onto the field against Sharjah FC.
The Kings footballers will also get an opportunity to play against a footballer who was a teammate with the two biggest names in the football world in this millennium, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. The name of that player is Miralem Pjanic.
The Bosnian midfielder, who played two years alongside Ronaldo at Italian club Juventus and one season with Messi in Spanish club Barcelona, moved to the UAE club last year.
After a barren two-year stint with Barcelona, where he spent one year at Turkish club Besiktas on loan, Pjanic went to Sharjah FC in last year’s September and is currently donning their jersey No10.
The 33-year-old, who has played 83 matches in the UEFA Champions League and has over a 100 assists to his name, will battle Kings’ Bangladeshi players like Biplu Ahmed, Sohel Rana, Bishwanath Ghosh to take control of the midfield in the preliminary round match.
If the Kings manage to overthrow Pjanic’s Sharjah FC and go past Tractor FC, they will take Bangladesh football to the biggest competition of Asian club football, something that hasn’t happened since the introduction of the tournament in 2002.
If Kings fail to go past them, they will have to compete in the AFC Cup, the secondary club football competition in Asia.
Another Bangladeshi club Abahani Limited could also compete in the main phase of the AFC Cup, if they can defeat Maldivian club Eagles in the play-off on 22 August.