Brazilian football star Neymar is set to land in India as his side, Al Hilal, has been drawn with Mumbai City FC in the group stage of the AFC Champions League 2023/24. The highest tier of Asian club competition features the sole Indian side, which will play its home matches at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune. Alongside Neymar, some of the leading names in football like Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergie Milinkovic-Savic, and Ruben Neves among others also represent Al Hilal in the Saudi Pro League. All the aforementioned names signed for the Saudi club earlier this season.
Alongside Al Hilal and Mumbai City FC, the other two teams drawn in Group D are Navbahor of Uzbekistan and Iran’s FC Nassaji Mazandaran. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr was drawn in Group E and will kick off their Asian Champions League group stage challenge in Tehran against Iran’s Persepolis next month while title holders Urawa Red Diamonds will take on Chinese champions Wuhan Three Towns.
The preliminary stage of the continental tournament is set to commence on September 18, with teams being distributed across five groups in both the western and eastern regions.
The victors of the ten groups will progress to the knockout rounds, joined by the top three second-place finishers from both the western and eastern sections of the draw.
Starting from February 12, the knockout phase will initiate, culminating in the grand finale. The championship match, featuring the most outstanding club from each side of the continent, will be contested over two legs on May 11 and 18.
Asian Champions League Group Stage Draw:
Group A: Pakhtakor (UZB), Al-Fayha (KSA), Ahal FC (TKM), Al-Ain (UAE)Group B: Al-Sadd (QAT), FC Nasaf (UZB), Al-Faisaly (JOR), Sharjah FC (UAE)
Group C: Al-Ittihad (KSA), Sepahan (IRN), Air Force Club (IRQ), AGMK FC (UZB)
Group D: Al-Hilal (KSA), FC Nassaji Mazandaran (IRN), Mumbai City (IND), Navbahor (UZB)
Group E: Persepolis (IRN), Al-Duhail (QAT), FC Istiklol (TJK), Al-Nassr (KSA)
Group F: Jeonbuk Motors (KOR), Bangkok United (THA), Lion City Sailors (SIN), Kitchee (HKG)
Group G: Yokohama F Marinos (JPN), Shandong Taishan (CHN), Kaya FC-Iloilo (PHI), Incheon United (KOR)
Source: Hindustan Times