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.
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.
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.