FC Goa becomes the first Indian football club to qualifyfor the group stage of the prestigious AFC Champions League. They defeated JamshedpurFC 5-0 in an Indian Super League (ISL) match in Jamshedpur on Wednesday. FC Goahas ended the league phase as a point table topper with 39 points after 18matches.
Before this I-League champions used to play in thepreliminary/play-off rounds of the AFC Champions League till this ongoingseason but none have been able to qualify for the group stage. Indian clubslike Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have played in the Asian Club Championshipsbut no team from the country has ever played in the group stage of the AFCChampions League.
After the All India Football Federation recognized ISL asthe top-tier league in the country, the team which succeeded to top the pointtable in the league phase of ISL will represent India in the prestigious AFCChampions League.
It may be mentioned here that AFC Champions League is the continent's top-tier club competition that started in 2002. The member associations ranked 7th to 10th in both West and East Zones of Asia get one direct slot in the group stage of the AFC Champions League. A total of 40 clubs will participate in the 2021 edition of the competition instead of the earlier 32 clubs. India has been allotted one slot in the expanded AFC Champions League as the country occupied the eighth spot in the West Zone.