India might not be among the top football nations in the world but the craze for the game is huge in the country. The likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, etc. have huge fan following in the country. As far as Ronaldo is concerned, not many of his fans had predicted that the Portuguese superstar would go on to play in the Saudi Pro League. But, his Indian fans are kind of thankful as the fact that Ronaldo plays for Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia gives them the chance of potentially seeing Ronaldo play in Mumbai.
As the draw for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2023/24 Group Stage draw takes place at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, there remains a good chance that Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr could be drawn in the same group as Indian Super League’s Mumbai City FC.
All you need to know about AFC Champions League Group Stage Draw:
Divided into 10 groups of four, the draw will witness teams from the West Zone drawn into Groups A to E while the contestants in the East Zone will find their places in Groups F to J.
Of the 40 participating teams, the berths of 32 contenders were confirmed previously while the remaining eight slots have been decided through the Playoff Stage. Owing to the principle of country protection, clubs from the same Member Association (MA) will not be drawn into the same group.
The West Zone will see four former champions, namely Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC and Al Ittihad, Al Ain FC from the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar’s Al Sadd SC attempt to reclaim the Continental throne.
Indian Super League (ISL) league winners Mumbai City FC, who will be representing the nation at the AFC Champions League for the second time, have been drawn in Pot 3 alongside Al Faisaly (JOR), FC Istiklol (TJK), Air Force Club (IRQ), and Ahal FC (TKM).
Meanwhile, in the East Zone, defending champions Urawa Red Diamonds from Japan to join the ranks of former champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, Ulsan Hyundai FC, and Pohang Steelers in the ACL Group Stage after a victory in the playoff round.
The pots for participating clubs in the AFC Champions League 2023/24 Group Stage Draw are:
Pot 1: Al Ittihad (KSA), Persepolis FC (IRN), Al Sadd SC (QAT), Pakhtakor (UZB), Al Hilal SFC (KSA)
Pot 2: Sepahan SC (IRN), Al Duhail SC (QAT), FC Nasaf (UZB), Al Fayha FC (KSA), Nassaji Mazandaran FC (IRN)
Pot 3: Al Faisaly (JOR), FC Istiklol (TJK), Air Force Club (IRQ), Ahal FC (TKM), Mumbai City FC (IND)
Pot 4: Al Ain FC (UAE), Al Nassr (KSA), Sharjah FC (UAE), AGMK FC (UZB), Navbahor (UZB)
Pot 1: Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR), Yokohama F. Marinos (JPN), Wuhan Three Towns FC (CHN), Buriram United (THA), Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC (KOR)
Pot 2: Ventforet Kofu (JPN), Shandong Taishan FC (CHN), Bangkok United (THA), Pohang Steelers (KOR), Kawasaki Frontale (JPN)
Pot 3: Hanoi FC (VIE), Kaya FC-Iloilo (PHI), Johor Darul Ta’zim (MAS), Melbourne City FC (AUS), Lion City Sailors (SGP)
Pot 4: Kitchee SC (HKG), Incheon United FC (KOR), Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN), Zhejiang FC (CHN), BG Pathum United (THA)
Following the contest between the Asian powerhouses in the Group Stage, the 10 group winners along with the three best runners-up of each Zone will book their places in the Knockout Stages, which will take place from February to April before the coveted Final is held over two legs on May 11 and 18, 2024.
The AFC Champions League Group Stage Draw will be held at 1:30 PM IST.
/ 3 years ago
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