The Asian Football Confederation has granted India the hosting rights of group stage matches of Group E for the AFC Champions League. The matches will be held in Goa, the AFC confirmed in a letter to General Secretaries of Participating Member Associations dated March 11, 2021.
FC Goa, who will be the first team from India to play in the group stage of the AFC Champions League. They have been drawn in Group E along with Iran’s Persepolis FC, who were runners-up in the 2018 AFC Champions League, Al Rayyan of Qatar, and a play-off winner.
The Gaurs became the first team from India to get direct qualification for the premier tournament after finishing at the top of the points table in the league phase of the Hero Indian Super League 2019-20 season.
Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, was quoted as saying in a release on the-afc.com: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to thank all our Member Associations for their interest in hosting our club competitions and commitment towards ensuring we continue to place the safety and wellbeing of our players, teams, and officials at the forefront of all our priorities.”
“The AFC is most grateful for the support of the AFC Competitions Committee and our commercial partners and we will continue to safeguard the interests of all stakeholders as we strive to ensure a safe and successful 2021 club football season.”
The release further stated, “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.”