FC Goa on Wednesday became the first team from the country to qualify for the group stage of the AFC Champions League, the continent’s top-tier club competition, after beating Jamshedpur FC 5-0 in an Indian Super League match in Jamshedpur. Ferran Corominas (11th), Hugo Boumous (70th and 90th), Jackichand Singh (84th) and Mourtada Fall (87th) scored for FC Goa to ensure that their side ended the league phase of the ISL on top spot. The top team at the end of the league stage of ISL has been guaranteed a berth in the 2021 AFC Champions League. FC Goa ended the league phase with 39 points after 18 matches.
They are now six points clear of ATK who are on second spot with 33 points with one match left to play.
Indian clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have played in the Asian Club Championships but no team from the country has ever played in the group stage of AFC Champions League since its introduction in 2002.
I-League champions used to play in the preliminary/play-off rounds of the AFC Champions League till this ongoing season but none have been able to qualify for the group stage.
With the ISL having been recognised as the top-tier league in the country by the All India Football Federation, its top team in the league phase will represent India in the prestigious AFC Champions League.
Under Asian Football Confederation’s member association ranking system issued in November 2019, India has been allotted one slot in the expanded AFC Champions League as the country occupied eighth spot in the West Zone.
The member associations ranked 7th to 10th in both West and East Zones get one direct slot in the group stage of the AFC Champions League which will have 40 clubs in the 2021 edition instead of 32 earlier.