Goa to host 2021 AFC Champions League Group E matches

Group E matches of the AFC Champions League (ACL) will be hosted in Goa, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Thursday. Group E includes FC Goa, who became the first Indian club to directly qualify for the group stage of Asia’s premier club competition by virtue of finishing at the top of the table in the Indian Super League (ISL).

Goa will be competing against Iranian club Persepolis, who finished runners-up in 2018, and Qatar’s Al Rayyan SC along with a qualifier from the playoff matches. The matches will be held from April 14 to 30. However, specific stadiums for the matches are yet to be announced.

“The West Region matches, which are scheduled to take place between April 14-30, will see Saudi Arabia host Groups A and D in Riyadh as well as Group C in Jeddah, with the matches in Group B to be staged in the United Arab Emirates city of Sharjah, while India, whose representative FC Goa are poised to mark the nation’s debut in Asia’s premier club competition, will host Group E,” said the AFC in its statement.

Goa played host to the 2020/21 season of the ISL which was held across three bio-secure venues in the state. The 2019/20 season of the ISL was the first time that the winners of the league stage were awarded direct qualification into the group stage of the ACL. Goa finished top of the table ahead of ATK. Mumbai City have sealed qualification this season and will play in the group stage of the 2022 ACL.