FC Goa and ATK Mohun Bagan may play at their home ground in their respective Asian competitions…
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has expressed interest to host the games in Group E (West Zone) of the AFC Champions League (ACL) and Group D of the AFC Cup, Goal can confirm. Goa and Kolkata are set to be the host venues if the country gets to host the two Asian competitions this season.
FC Goa, who will be the first Indian club to play in the group stages of the ACL, has been drawn alongside the likes of Iran’s Persepolis and Qatar’s Al-Rayyan in Group E of the ACL. UAE’s Al-Wahda FC and Iraq’s Al-Zawraa SC will lock horns in the play-off West 4 qualifying match and the winner of the tie will be the fourth team in Group ‘E’.
ATK Mohun Bagan are grouped with Bashundara Kings (Bangladesh), Maziya (the Maldives) and the winner of the play-off round in the Group D (South Zone) in their AFC Cup group stage. Apart from these two Indian clubs, fellow ISL side Bengaluru FC will be facing the winner of the qualifying play-off preliminary round one clash between Nepal Army Club and Sri Lanka Police in the preliminary round two.
The attempt to bag the hosting rights for both the continental level tournaments will be beneficial for the Gaurs and the Mariners who are currently in a bio-bubble in Goa for the ongoing 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) season.
Following the draw for the tournament in the last week of January, Ferrando had said, “It is very difficult (to shift from one bio-bubble to another) but there is no other way. It is necessary to protect the players. I am not so upset because ultimately we are playing in the group stage of the Champions League. Of course, we are away in our rooms, away from family but in the end, we are here to prepare a history for FC Goa.”
All AFC club competitions will be held at a centralised venue this season. While the ACL group stage West Region matches will be played between April 14-30, 2021, the East Region games are planned between April 21-May 7.
The ACL knockout matches in the Round of 16 are scheduled for September 13-15 and the quarter-finals on September 27-29. Both rounds will be played as single knockout games. The AFC Champions League semi-finals will be over two legs on October 19-20 and 26-27. The ACL will witness a two-legged final on November 21 and 27.
The group stage matches of the AFC Cup South Zone which is the Group D will commence on May 14.
The two-legged zonal final involving South, Central and East clubs is scheduled for August 11 and 25, with the ASEAN single-leg Zonal final planned for August 25, before the two-legged West Zonal Final takes place on October 20 and November 3. The two-legged Inter-zonal Semi-Finals is scheduled for September 14-15 and 28-29 with the Inter-zonal Final to be staged on October 20 and November 3.