Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Mumbai City FC has been drawn into the same group with star-studded Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal SFC in the AFC Champions League 2023-24.

Besides Al Hilal, the Islanders will also compete against Iran’s Nassaji Mazandaran and Uzbekistan’s PFC Navbahor Namangan in Group D of the AFC Champions League.

Al Hilal are not only the most successful club in Saudi Arabia, but also in Asia. They have won 66 trophies and hold the record for the number of Saudi Pro League titles and Asian Champions League titles with 18 and four, respectively.

The news of Mumbai City FC being placed alongside Al Hilal quickly gained attention, not just because the Saudi Arabian side were the runners-up in the previous edition, but also due to the roster of star footballers that this team boasts. From Brazil’s standout player Neymar to Senegalese captain Kalidou Koulibaly, Al Hilal SFC showcases a wealth of superstar footballers in their squad.

Read More: Mumbai City FC’s group stage fixtures and dates announced

Mumbai City FC will first travel to Riyadh to play the away fixture against Al Hilal on October 23. In the reverse fixture, they will go head-to-head at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on November 6.

Below is the list of superstar footballers that the Islanders will be up against when they take on the Saudi Arabian giants over the two-legged group stage matches.

1. Neymar Jr.

After spending six seasons with Paris Saint-Germain, Brazilian forward Neymar Jr. has recently completed his move to the Saudi Arabian club. The 31-year-old is one of the most followed footballers of this generation, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Having begun his club career with Santos, Neymar also represented La Liga giants FC Barcelona from 2013 to 2017. He has scored 295 club goals thus far, in addition to netting 77 goals for the Brazil national team.

The Brazilian is yet to make his debut for Al Hilal as he returns to full fitness. However, it's undeniable that his signing will undoubtedly boost their chances of securing the ACL trophy, especially after narrowly missing out last time.

2. Kalidou Koulibaly

Senegal football team captain Koulibaly has joined the team from the Premier League club Chelsea FC. However, his time with the Blues didn't last long, with the defender parting ways after just one season. The former Napoli centre-back will now aim to regain his form with his current club.

Standing at 6 feet 1 inch tall, the defender is renowned for his physical prowess and commanding presence in the area. Additionally, he also poses a threat during set-pieces.

In 2021, Koulibaly made history by becoming the first Senegalese player to lift the African Cup of Nations. He led his side to victory, defeating Mohammad Salah's Egypt in the final.

3. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Serbian midfielder Milinkovic-Savic is widely recognised for his commanding presence at the centre of the pitch. The 28-year-old possesses a remarkable combination of physicality, technical proficiency, and tactical intelligence, enabling him to contribute not only to his side's offence but also defence.

Milinkovic-Savic rose to prominence primarily during his eight-year stint with Serie A club Lazio, where his impressive performances caught the attention of numerous top clubs around the world. With his towering height of 6 feet 4 inches, he presents a significant threat during set pieces too.

The Serbian international has also scored seven goals in 43 appearances for his national team.

4. Ruben Neves

Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves is another significant addition to the Al Hilal side. A midfield pairing of Neves and Milinkovic-Savic could potentially offer much-needed strength and stability to Al Hilal's midfield. 

Neves began his club career with Porto before making a move to England with Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he spent six years and during that time, he became a prominent figure for his nation as well.

Neves is recognised for his tremendous work rate, expansive passing range, set-piece expertise, and adept ball control, all of which contribute to his team's creative play. The 26-year-old also possesses a knack for shooting from distance and has scored some tremendous long-range goals.

5. Aleksandar Mitrovic

Serbian forward Mitrovic is also among the recent signings made by the Saudi giants. The 28-year-old has joined Al Hilal following his remarkable five-year stint with Fulham.

He is a classic centre-forward who excels at holding up the ball, winning aerial duels, and finding the back of the net with his head and feet. His work rate and determination make him difficult to catch for the opposing defenders.

Throughout his career, Mitrovic has gained a reputation as a talismanic figure for both club and country. He has always been an integral presence for his side. During his spell with Fulham, he netted 97 goals in just 173 games. He has earned 81 caps for Serbia so far and has scored 52 goals.

6. Yassine Bounou

Popularly known as Bounou, the Moroccan international is renowned for his shot-stopping abilities and commanding presence in the penalty area. The goalkeeper has earned immense praise from the football fan fraternity during the FIFA World Cup 2022, where he showcased his agility, reflexes, and ability to make crucial saves for his country. They achieved their best-ever finish in the World Cup, securing a fourth-place position. Bounou has also played an influential role at his previous club, Sevilla FC, aiding them in winning the UEFA Europa League.

Other Notable Players

Salem Al-Dawsari
Salman Al-Faraj