Best Campaigns of Indian Clubs in the AFC Cup

East Bengal have made the most number of appearances in the AFC Cup since 2004.

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Abishek Goswami
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Best Campaigns of Indian Clubs in the AFC Cup

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East Bengal had an unbeaten run until the semi-finals of the AFC Cup in 2013. East Bengal have made the most number of appearances (eight) in the AFC Cup since 2004. Bengaluru FC and Dempo Sports Club have participated in four and five editions of the AFC Cup respectively. Dempo were the first club to reach the semifinal of the AFC Cup in 2008, while Bengaluru are the only Indian club to reach the final of the competition in 2016.

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Top Five Campaigns of Indian Clubs in the AFC Cup

East Bengal (2004) & Mahindra United (2007) - Quarterfinal

East Bengal reached the quarterfinal of the first-ever edition of the AFC Cup in 2004 by winning the National Football League in 2002-03. The Red and Gold Brigade topped their group by winning four of the six matches but lost 3-0 in a two-legged quarterfinal against Al-Jaish.

Mahindra United reached the last-eight stage of the AFC Cup in 2007. They finished second in their group behind Singapore Armed Forces FC and then lost to Al-Nejmeh 4-5 in a two-legged quarterfinal.

Bengaluru FC (2017) - Inter-zone play-off Final

After making it to the final of the AFC Cup in 2016, Bengaluru FC reached the inter-zone play-off final in 2017.They topped the group stage and got the better of DPR Korea's April 25 SC by 3-0 over two legs. However, they lost in the play-off final against Tajikistan's Football Club Istiklol 3-2 over two legs and failed to make it to the final for the second time in a row.

East Bengal (2013) - Semifinal

East Bengal became the second Indian club to reach the semifinal of the AFC Cup. They qualified for the competition by winning the Federation Cup in 2012. The Red and Gold Brigade topped the group stage and reached the round of 16. They thrashed Myanmar's Yangon United 5-1 in a one-legged tie and then defeated Indonesia's Semen Padang 2-1 in a two-legged quarterfinal. Unfortunately, they lost to eventual champions Al-Kuwait SC 7-2 over two legs in the semifinal.

Dempo SC (2008) - Semifinal

Dempo were the first Indian club to reach the semifinal of the AFC Cup in 2008. They qualified for the competition after winning the National Football League in the 2006-07 season. Dempo finished second in the group stage and reached the quarterfinal where they had to defeat Singapore's Home United 5-4 in a two-legged affair to reach the semifinal. Ultimately, they lost to Lebanon's Safa Sports Club 5-1 in the semifinal.

Bengaluru FC (2016) - Final

Bengaluru FC are the only Indian club to reach the final of the AFC Cup in 2016. They qualified into the competition by winning the Federation Cup in the 2014-15 season. In the group stage, they finished second behind Johor Darul Ta'zim. In the round of 16, they defeated Hong Kong's Kitchee Sports Club 3-2 and then got the better of Singapore's Tampines Rovers 1-0 over two legs. In the semifinal, they beat Johor Darul 4-2 in a two-legged tie to create history. Unfortunately, in the final, they lost to Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1-0.

Mohun Bagan (2022) - Inter-zone play-off semi-final

The previous edition of the AFC Cup was played under the veil of the bio-bubble, with Group D held in Kolkata. The Green and Maroons faced Bashundhara, Maziya S&RC, and Gokulam Kerala FC. Starting with a 2-4 defeat at the hands of Gokulam Kerala, Mohun Bagan made a comeback and won their remaining matches to finish at the top of the group.

Their Inter-zone play-off semi-final against Kuala Lumpur City (Malaysia) was an absolute thriller. ATK Mohun Bagan thought nearly took the match into extra time when Fardin Ali Molla scored a 90th-minute equaliser. Fakrul Aiman Sidid and Romel Morales scored in injury time for Kuala Lumpur to snatch the match away from the Green and Maroons and Mohun Bagan's journey came to an end.

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