FC Goa to make historic AFC Champions League debut alongside Persepolis FC and Al Rayyan SC in Group E
Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) outfit FC Goa were placed alongside Iran’s Persepolis FC and Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC in Group E (West Zone) of the AFC Champions League 2021 following the conclusion of the draw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Wednesday. UAE-based club Al-Wahda FC and Iraq's Al-Zawraa SC will square off in the playoff West 4 qualifying match and the winner of that tie will be the fourth team in Group E.
The Gaurs finished at the summit of the 2019-20 Hero ISL league table and secured the inaugural League Winners Shield as well as a spot in the AFC Champions League group stage. In what was a historic draw on Wednesday, it was the first time that an Indian football club has directly qualified for the group stage of the biggest continental competition in Asia.
The total number of teams in the AFC Champions League have been increased from 32 to 40 for the upcoming edition. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all AFC club competitions will be held in a centralised venue this year. The AFC Champions League West Region group stage matches will be played between April 14-30 and the East Region games will take place between April 21-May 7.
The knockout phase (round of 16 and quarter-finals) will be decided by single matches. The round of 16 has been scheduled between September 13-15 and the quarter-finals will happen between September 27 and 29. The semi-finals will be held over two legs on October 19-20 and 26-27. The AFC Champions League will also witness a two-leg final on November 21 and 27.