Defending champions Mumbai City FC will represent India in the upcoming season in the AFC Champions League. The Islanders qualified for the competition after winning the Indian Super League in the 2020-2021 season.
The draw took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 17th January. Mumbai replace FC Goa as the team to represent India in the AFC Champions League. This date will go down in history for Mumbai City as this will be the first time they appear on the biggest stage of Asian Club Football.
Mumbai were drawn in group B alongside Al Shabab (KSA), Air Force Club (IRQ), and Al Jazira (UAE). 40 teams were divided into 10 groups of 4. The 10 groups are further divided into the West Region and the East Region. Group A-E belongs to the West Region. Meanwhile, group F-J belongs to the east region.
A look at the competition
AL SHABAB – AL Shabab, is a club based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The team boasts the likes of former Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo. Ever Banega, Argentina midfielder is also a part of their squad. N’Diaye, another name that has Premier League experience, stands in their squad. They come back to the prestigious competition after 7 long years.
AIR FORCE CLUB – They are 3 time AFC Cup winners and the defending champions of the Iraqi Premier League. Their success speaks volumes and they could prove to be a tough nut to crack. Hammadi Ahmed captains the side and has been capped by the Iraq national 40 times.
AL JAZIRA – They are the reigning champions of the UAE Pro-League. They are also a part of the FIFA Club World Cup, which includes teams like Chelsea FC. Following a 3 year absence, they are back once more. Vicor Sa is a star name in their lineup and one to watch out for. The 27 year old Brazilian has played in the German Bundesliga and is the engine of the team.
Buckingham ready and raring to go
Des Buckingham, the current coach of The Islanders reacted positively to the draw.
“We are very excited. As a coach and as players, we always want to compete with the best and participating in the AFC Champions League allows us to do so. Now that we know our opponents, our objective will be to get to the AFC Champions League off the back of a successful Indian Super League. So our focus will be to do well with the task we have at hand right now and when we get to the AFC Champions League, we want to make sure we represent Mumbai well and give a good showing of Indian football on the Asian stage.”
Mumbai City FC are only the second team to represent India at the biggest Asian stage. The date of the fixtures will be released soon.
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