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AFC Champions League: India gets 3rd AFC slot in possible direct group entry in Champions League from 2021

Tanish Chachra

AFC Champions League: India gets 3rd AFC slot in possible direct group entry in Champions League from 2021
AFC Champions League: India reportedly gets 3rd AFC slot in what means to be a possible direct entry to the Champions League from 2021 edition.

India is set to receive an added slot in the AFC competitions, which is rumoured to be a direct entry into the Champions League group stage round, which could turn out to be a major boost in India domestic competition.

Further, it would be the first time in 30 years that an Indian club would be featuring in the main competition, Goa-based Salgaocar were the last team to feature in group games of the erstwhile Asian Club Championship in 1990-91.

Currently, India has 2 AFC slots, the I-League champions Chennai City FC will feature in the ACL preliminary rounds in January 2020, while Bengaluru FC enters the AFC Cup from the playoff stages a month later.
While, Indian Super league being elevated as the premier league of India, the AIFF has swapped the competitions for seasons to follow with a further clarification that the ISL regular season group topper would make the ACL, and not the winner of the final.
On the other hand, AFC has also decided that the winner of AFC will get a spot in the preliminary round of the Champions League. These decisions were taken during the AFC competitions committee’s meeting in Tokyo on Saturday.

How the new slot will fix in

India will have an additional slot in the AFC tournaments from 2021 with the play-off slot retained to the I-league. As for now, one undetermined slot is fixed for the AFC cup.

The ISL group stage winners will be incorporated into the ACL, but as of now, ESPN understands they are only assured of a playoff spot, though India’s performance and rankings in 2020 could help convert that into a group stage entry.

Meanwhile, AFC has also increased the number of teams going to participate in the tournament from 32 to 40 teams, with countries like Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore now getting a chance to enter the group stages of the ACL alongside India.

Also read: ISL Sponsors 2019: List of all Indian Super League sponsors and team sponsors; includes Premier League

How will Indian clubs and India’s performances matter in influencing the rankings

AFC has a clear system of giving points to a country through their performances which determine the AFC rankings. 90 per cent weight-age for each result in AFC competitions, and 10 per cent for their national team’s performances in the FIFA world rankings.

India has dropped from 13th to 15th in the latest ranking system with both Minerva Punjab and Chennaiyin failing to advance beyond the AFC Cup group stages this year, and the national team also having won just two matches the whole year.

About the author

Tanish Chachra

Tanish Chachra


Tanish Chachra is the Motorsport editor at The SportsRush. He saw his first race when F1 visited India in 2011, and since then, his romance with the sport has been seasonal until he took up this role in 2020. Reigniting F1's coverage on this site, Tanish has fallen in love with the sport all over again. He loves Kimi Raikkonen and sees a future world champion in Oscar Piastri. Away from us, he loves to snuggle inside his books.

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