Indian Super League (ISL) club Mumbai City FC was drawn with Neymar’s Al Hilal in the West Zone group D of the AFC Champions League here on Thursday.
The Islanders will also face Iran’s F.C. Nassaji Mazandaran and Uzbekistan’s PFC Navbahor Namangan.
Des Buckingham’s Mumbai City became the first Indian team to win a match in the Champions League last season and will be aiming to improve on its chances.
Ahead of the Islanders’ landmark second appearance in the AFC Champions League, Mumbai City FC has announced that the club will be playing its ‘home’ games at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune.
The present infrastructural setup at the Mumbai Football Arena makes the venue ineligible to host AFC Champions League games. Mumbai City FC will thus set up base in Pune for its three ‘home’ games in the group stage of the 2023-24 Champions League.
Here are Mumbai City’s opponents:
No team has won more AFC Champions League titles than Al Hilal (four). The Saudi Pro League side won the competition in 2021 and was the runner-up last season.
Al Hilal, much like its fellow Saudi league competitors, has seen an influx of big-name signings from European leagues. The most prominent of those is the acquisition of Brazilian star Neymar from PSG for a reported 90 million euros.
Other signings include Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Aleksandar Mitrović and Sergej Milinković-Savić.
F.C. Nassaji Mazandaran
F.C. Nassaji Mazandaran is one of the oldest Iranian football clubs. It earned its promotion to the Persian Gulf Pro League in 2018, becoming the first club from the Mazandaran region to qualify for the Iranian top-flight.
The Mazandaran Tigers earned their spot in the AFC Champions League for the first time after it won the 2021-22 Hafzi Cup, the premier knockout cup competition in Iranian football.
PFC Navbahor Namangan
PFC Navbahor Namangan, which finished second in the Uzbekistan Super League last season, earned its spot in the AFC Champions League group stage after it beat Qatari side Al Wakrah in the playoff.
Navbahor, based in the city of Namangan, is making its tournament debut.
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