Mumbai City, the defending champions of the Indian Super League 2021 is all set to represent India in the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2022. The draw for the group stage declaring the names of all the contesting teams were revealed in an event in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, informed the club. Notably, the islanders have been placed in Group B alongside Al Jazira of UAE, Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia and the Air Force Club of Iraq in the upcoming ACL. As per reports, the fixture dates of Mumbai City's ACL matches and the venue for the group stage games will be announced later.
4 clubs to make their debut in AFC Champions League 2022
In this year's ACL, Mumbai City FC is not the only club making its debut as three other clubs are also going to participate in the 2022 edition of Asia's flagship club competition for the very first time. Saudi Arabia's Al Faisaly FC and Turkmenistan's Ahal FC will also feature for the first time in the West Zone in ACL 2022. Australian A-League champions Melbourne City is also set to make their debut in the East Region draw this year.
Competition to follow expanded format this year
Talking about the competition, the club said "40 teams were drawn in 10 groups of four each at the draws, with five groups (A-E) in the west region and five groups (F-J) in the East region".
With both East and West Region featuring five groups of four teams each, this year's competition will follow the expanded format that was introduced in last season's tournament. Five group winners and the best three runner-ups from each region will then advance to the Round of 16 in ACL.
Reportedly, clubs from the West Zone will take part in Groups A, B and C while ASEAN Zone will play in Groups H, I and J. As per the notification released by the official from AFC Champions League, teams from the Central Zone will be featured in Groups E and F.
Following the lead of FC Goa
Interestingly, this is not the first time that an Indian football club has qualified to enter the AFC Champions League group stage. FC Goa was the first football club of India to bag this honour in the last edition of this annual continental club football competition. In its debut performance, FC Goa managed three draws and three losses in the AFC Champions League 2021.
Mumbai City FC has earned a reputation for participating in every season of the ISL since its inception in 2014. The club finally managed to bag the title last year by defeating ATK Mohun Bagan in the final match.
-with inputs from IANS