FC Goa becomes the first Indian club to directly qualify for the group stage of the AFC Champions League after securing the top spot in the ISL group stage last season.
AFC is going to introduce a new format in AFC Champions League and AFC Cup this season. AFC Champions League will be played with 40 teams this season.
Yesterday, the group stage draw was held. FC Goa is in the ‘Group E’ with last year’s runners-up Persepolis FC and Qatari club AL Rayyan. The 4th team of the group is yet to be decided.
The preliminary stage of the competition will kick off on 7 April. The group stage matches of West Zone (Groups A to E) will be held between 14 to 30 April and then for East Zone (Groups F to J) it will be held between 21 April to 7 May.
As per the new rule of AFC, the group stages matches will be held in only one venue for each group. FC Goa want to host the matches of AFC Champions League.
FC Goa team director Ravi Puskur said, “It would be a great opportunity for AIFF (All India Football Federation) and Goa and would open a brand new market for the competition. Goa has proved its hosting capability with the ISL and the under-17 World Cup. Don’t see why Goa can’t be given the opportunity.”
AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said, “The bids open on Friday. We will bid.”
FC Goa is in a comparatively tough group in the AFC Champions League. They are in a good form in ISL this season. FC Goa is now 3rd in the ISL table. They can surely give a tough fight to their opponents in ACL.