Mumbai City FC will start its AFC Champions League campaign against Nassaji Mazandaran on September 18 and will play Saudi Pro League giant Al Hilal on November 6, 2023.
The Indian Super League Shield Winner was drawn in Group D in the Champions League on Wednesday, confirming a mach against Al HIlal, which has signed several European stars this summer, including Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ruben Neves and Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.
The Islanders will start its Champions League campaign against Iranian side Nassaji Mazandaran on September 18 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, their home stadium for the Champions League this time.
It will then travel to Uzbekistan to play Navbahor and then to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to lock horns against Al Hilal. It will play the return leg against the same side, two weeks later in Pune.
“The teams in the AFC Champions League, they’re the best in their own country. As coaches and players, we always want to test ourselves against the best. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to continue what we did last time around and to showcase what Indian football can do on that stage,” Des Buckingham, the head coach of Mumbai City FC, told after the draw.
“We’re looking forward to giving a good account of ourselves against the likes of Al Hilal, Nassaji and Navbahor – some of the best clubs in Asia – and represent not just Mumbai but Indian football as a whole in the best way possible.”
Mumbai City FC’s schedule for AFC Champions League group-stage
September 18, 2023: Mumbai City FC vs Nassaji Mazandaran – Pune, India – 7:30 pm IST
October 3, 2023: Navbahor Namangan vs Mumbai City FC – Namangan, Uzbekistan – 7:30 pm IST
October 23, 2023: Al Hilal SFC vs Mumbai City FC – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – 11:30 pm IST
November 6, 2023: Mumbai City FC vs Al Hilal SFC – Pune, India – 7:30 pm IST
November 28, 2023: Nassaji Mazandaran vs Mumbai City FC – Tehran, Iran – 9:30 pm
December 4, 2023: Mumbai City FC vs Navbahor Namangan – Pune, India – 9:30 pm IST
Mumbai City FC secured its second appearance in Asia’s biggest club football competition after lifting the 2022-23 Indian Super League Winners’ Shield and then subsequently defeating 2021-22 ISL Shield Winner, Jamshedpur FC, 3-1 in a single-leg playoff in April 2023.
The Islanders created history in their maiden AFC Champions League appearance in April 2022 after finishing second in Group B behind Saudi Arabian club Al Shabab, narrowly missing out on a spot in the knockout rounds.
Des Buckingham’s side secured two wins in the process – both against Iraq’s Air Force Club – and became the first Indian club to win a game at the AFC Champions League.