FC Goa have been placed in a very tough draw in the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Champions League 2021 with the draw being held on Wednesday. FC Goa became the first Indian team to qualify for the continental competition in the current format when they won the Indian Super League (ISL) Shield last season. The Champions League has now been expanded from 32 to 40 clubs, with eight teams qualifying from the qualification stage. Along with FC Goa, Pro League champions Al Wehdat and two-time AFC Cup runners-up FC Istiklol from Tajikistan are the maiden Group Stage entrants.
The 40 clubs are divided into 10 groups consisting of four teams each at the draw. The first five groups categorised under A to E comprise teams from the Western Region, which includes FC Goa. While the remaining five F to J forms the Eastern Region.
FC Goa were grouped in Group E alongside Iranian league champions and AFC CL 2020 runners-up Persepolis, Qatar Stars League runners-up Al Rayyan and playoff winner (UAE's Al-Wahda vs Iraq's Al-Zawraa).
The group stage will be played from April 14-30 in a centralised venue, to be decided by a bidding process.
FC Goa have had a massive change of personnel this season. Their coach Sergio Lobera was sacked in the middle of the previous season and they also lost the core of their foreign contingent ahead of the current season. However, FCG have reinforced well with the quality of Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz, Ivan Gonzalez, Alberto Noguera and James Donachie.
FCG are currently third in the ISL 2020-21 points table with five wins, five draws and three losses in 13 games.
In the AFC Cup draw, ATK Mohun Bagan (ATK won the ISL last season and Mohun Bagan won the I-League) were grouped alongside Bangladesh heavyweights Basundhara Kings, Maziya S&RC (Maldives league winners) and playoff winner (includes Bengaluru FC).
The matches will be played between May 14 and May 20.