The Indian Super League outfit Mumbai City FC has been drawn in Group D for the upcoming season of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League. The draw for the continental competition was held on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Competing alongside Mumbai City FC in Group D are teams like Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr’s Al-Hilal FC (Saudi Arabia), FC Nassaji Mazandaran (Iran), and PFC Navbahor Namangan (Uzbekistan).
Earlier the Islanders were placed in Pot 3 of the four-pot West Zone. The groups for AFC Champions League were divided with one team from each pot combining to form a group.
Coached by Des Buckingham, Mumbai City FC - the ISL Shield winners, had qualified for the AFC Champions League following a play-off win over Jamshedpur FC.
Al-Hilal FC is expected to pose the biggest challenge to the Indian club during the course of the tournament. The Saudi Arabian club are not only a four-time AFC Champions League winners, but have also signed Neymar recently.
The other two clubs in Group D – FC Nassaji Mazandaran and PFC Navbahor Namangan, on the other hand, will be making their AFC Champions League debut this season.
Mumbai City FC, though, will be making their second appearance in the continental showpiece, after having finished second in Group B behind Saudi Arabia’s Al-Shabab in the previous edition. They missed out on the knockouts by two points as the three second-best teams across all the groups advance further in the competition.
Since their home ground Mumbai Football Arena has been deemed ineligible to host AFC Champions League matches, the Rahul Bheke-led side will play their home matches of the season at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.
During the draw, a total of 40 participating clubs were drawn into ten different groups of four teams each for the 2023-24 AFC Champions League, which will be held from September 2023 to May 2024.
The winners of each group will advance to the knockout stages of the competition along with three best second placed teams across the ten groups.
Complete groups for 2023-24 AFC Champions League:
Group A - Pakhator, AL Fayha, Ahal FC, Al Ain FC
Group B - Al Sadd, FC Nassaf, Al Faisaly, Sharjah FC
Group C - Al Ittihad, Sepahan SC, Air Force Club, AGMK F
Group D - Al Hilal FC, Nassaji, Mumbai City FC, Navbahor
Group E - Persepolis, AL Duhail, FC Istiklol, Al Nassr
Group F - Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, Bangkok United, Lion City Sailors FC, Kitchee
Group G - Yokohama F. Marinos, Shandong Taishan, Kaya FC-Iloilo, Incheon United
Group H - Buriham United, Ventforet Kofu, Melbourne City FC, Zheijiang FC
Group I - Ulsan Hyundai FC, Kawasaki Frontale, Johor Darul Ta’zim, BG Pathum United
Group J - Wuhan Three Towers, Pohang Steelers, Hanoi FC, Urawa Red Diamonds