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ACL: Neymar To Play in India as Mumbai City & Al Hilal Gets Drawn in Same Group

AFC Champions League: Mumbai City and Al Hilal are placed in the same group, alongside an Iranian and an Uzbek club.

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Football
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Brazilian football superstar Neymar Jr., alongside a plethora of renowned names in international football, will soon be seen playing in India. The draw of the 2023-24 AFC Champions League group stage was conducted on Thursday, 24 August, with India’s Mumbai City FC being placed in the same group as Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal.

Why Will Neymar Play in India?

Brazil’s all-time joint-leading goal-scorer, alongside Pele, Neymar recently switched allegiance from France’s Paris Saint-Germain to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, who have been drawn in the same group as Mumbai City FC for the upcoming edition of Asia’s pinnacle club football competition – the AFC Champions League.

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Albeit he is currently nursing an injury, and subsequently has not made his debut for the Saudi club yet, Al Hilal’s manager Jorge Jesus has confirmed the injury is ‘minor’, and the 31-year-old is likely to be fit prior to the commencement of the AFC Champions League.

Should Neymar manage to avoid any further escalation of the injury, the Indian football aficionados will have a unique opportunity of seeing the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League winner playing a competitive match in India.

Which Other Renowned Players Can Be Seen Alongside Neymar?

In accordance with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious football project (read our explainer to know more), the Public Investment Fund (PIF) co-owned team has made plenty of lucrative signings, alongside Neymar.

Former Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Serbia’s all-time leading goal-scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic, Portugal’s UEFA Nations League-winning midfielder Ruben Neves, and Neymar’s fellow Brazilian teammate Malcom, who had previously won La Liga with Barcelona, will be seen in Al Hilal’s team.

Who Else Is in Mumbai City’s Group?

Barring Al Hilal, the reigning Indian Super League (ISL) shield winners will compete against Iran’s FC Nassaji Mazandaran and Uzbekistan’s Navbahor Namangan.

Nassaji Mazandaran are the defending champions of Iran’s Hazfi Cup, whilst Navbahor Namangan finished second in 2022’s Uzbekistan Super League.

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Where Will the Matches Be Played?

Mumbai City will not be playing their home matches at their regular home, the Mumbai Football Arena, owing to the stadium not meeting AFC’s requirements. Instead, the matches will be held at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune.

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