All eyes were on AFC Champions League 2023-24 group stage draw today, because of a possibility of football legend Cristiano Ronaldo playing in India as part of the AFC Champions League.
Though the group stage draw saw ISL side Mumbai City FC and Ronaldo's club Al-Nassr being drawn into different groups, there was still something exciting for Indian football fans, especially those who love the Selecao, to look forward to – Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. may play in India for the first time ever. His club Al Hilal were drawn up with Mumbai City in Group D of West Zone.
Al Hilal, the most successful club in the history of the tournament, have signed the likes of Neymar, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, among others.
A recent signing, Neymar, last week, was greeted by thousands of fans in Riyadh as the former Barcelona and PSG star was unveiled at the 68,000-capacity King Fahd International Stadium.
Neymar sat out Al Hilal's game against Al-Fayha later on Saturday, and is expected to make his debut against Al-Raed later on Thursday.
The other two teams in Group D are FC Nassaji Mazandaran from Iran and Uzbekistan's PFC Navbahor Namangan.
The draw saw the 40 teams divided into 10 groups - five each in the East and West Zones.
The group winners along with the three best runners-up of each zone will book their places in the knockout stages, which will take place from February to April before the final is held over two legs on May 11 and 18, 2024.
Mumbai City FC will play their home games at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.
AFC Champions League Group Stage (West Zone)
Group A: Al-Fayha FC, Pakhtakor , Ahla FC, Al Ain FC
Group B: Al-Saad, Nasaf, Al-Faisaly, Sharjah FC
Group C: Al-Ittihad, Sepahan SC, Air Force Club, AGMK FC
Group D: Al Hilal, FC Nassaji Mazandaran, Mumbai City FC, PFC Navbahor Namangan
Group E: Persepolis, Al-Duhail, Istiklol, Al-Nassr
AFC Champions League Group Stage (East Zone)
Group F: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, Bangkok United, Lion City Sailors, Kitchee SC
Group G: Yokohama F. Marinos, Shandong Taishan FC, Kaya FC-Iloilo,
Incheon United FC
Group H: Buriram United, Ventforet Kofu, Melbourne City FC, Zhejiang FC
Group I: Ulsan Hyundai FC, Kawasaki Frontale, Johor Darul Ta’zim, BG Pathum United
Group J: Wuhan Three Towns FC, Pohang Steelers, Hanoi FC, Urawa Red Diamonds