Bengaluru FC failed to qualify for the AFC Cup group stage after losing in the penalty shootout to Maldivian side Maziya Sports and Recreation Club in the second leg of the playoff fixture in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
After losing 2-1 in Male in the first leg, BFC started the game on the front foot as a sparse crowd at the Kanteerava stadium cheered on. The home side took the lead through Deshorn Brown in the 58th minute before the Maldivian side drew level through Ibrahim Waheed in the 74th. It took a Sunil Chhetri goal in the 80th minute to force the game into extra time; the teams tied 3-3 on aggregate.
Ezekiel's goal gave Maziya a lead early on in extra time, and with BFC pushing for an equalizer, they held their ground for the vast majority of the period. It took until the first minute of added time in the second half for Chhetri to curl in a sublime free kick to level things up again and force the tie into a penalty shootout.
BFC looked to have taken the upper hand in the shootout, at one point taking a 3-1 lead, but they would miss the next two (Brown and Parag Shivas, after Rahul Bheke's miss earlier) to lose 3-4 as Hussain Nihan slotted home in sudden death.
This will be the first time since the inception of Asia's second tier continental competition, in 2004, that India will not have two representatives competing in the tournament. BFC, the first Indian team to make an AFC competition final (in 2016), will now need to win the ISL Playoffs to regain entry into the AFC Cup (qualifying stage) next season.