Kuala Lumpur: Mumbai City FC have been drawn against Al Hilal SFC, FC Nassaji Mazandaran and PFC Navbahor Namangan in Group D of the 2023-24 AFC Champions League, following the draw conducted by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) here.
Mumbai City qualified for the group stage of Asia’s premier club competition for the second successive season after winning the 2022–23 Indian Super League Shield and the subsequent Club Play-off against Jamshedpur FC.
Al Hilal SFC, record four-time AFC Champions League Winners and finalists in four of the last six seasons, will present the biggest test for the Islanders; they have also recently signed Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr, who had previously won prestigious tournaments like the UEFA Champions League and gold in the 2016 Olympics. FC Nassaji Mazandaran, winners of Iran’s 2021-22 Hazfi Cup, and PFC Navbahor Namangan, runners-up of the 2022 Uzbekistan Super League, will be making their AFC Champions League debut.
Matches will be played on a home-and-away round-robin basis, with the group winners and three best runners-up across all five west zone groups qualifying for the Round of 16. Mumbai City FC will play their home games at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.
Des Buckingham’s side had an impressive outing in the AFC Champions League last season, registering two wins over Iraq’s Al Quwa Al Jawiya to finish Group B in second place with seven points. Mumbai City will hope for more of the same this season, with an added advantage of playing on Indian soil.
In Asia’s second-tier competition, India will be represented by continental debutants Odisha FC and qualifying play-off winners Mohun Bagan Super Giant in Group D (South Zone) of the AFC Cup 2023-24. Bashundhara Kings, winners of the 2021-22 Bangladesh Premier League and Maziya S&RC, winners of Maldives’ 2022 Dhivehi Premier League are the other two sides in the group.
Odisha FC qualified directly for the group stage courtesy of their 2023 Super Cup triumph and the subsequent Club Play-off win over Gokulam Kerala FC. Mohun Bagan SG, champions of the 2022-23 Indian Super League and winners of the Club Play-off against Hyderabad FC, navigated past Machhindra FC of Nepal (3-1) in the Preliminary Round 2 and Abahani Limited Dhaka of Bangladesh (3-1) in the Play-off Round to book an AFC Cup Group Stage berth for the third successive season.
Matches will be played on a home-and-away round-robin basis, with the group winners qualifying for the inter-zone play-off semi-finals. Odisha FC will play their home matches at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, while Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan will host Mohun Bagan SG’s home matches.