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How Indian football clubs can be elite in Asia ?

How Indian football clubs can be elite in Asia ?

“Every game is a Master class”, these are the words from Juan Ferrando about AFC Champions League matches. In the ongoing season of the AFC Champions League, FC Goa proved by finishing 3rd place in the group stage and impressed many Indian fans by showing their fighting spirit against top Asian clubs and witnessed fantastic performance from the Indian players like Glan Martins and Dheeraj Singh.

On the other side, Bengaluru FC which had a poor ISL season last season, thrashed the Nepal Army by 5 – 0 in AFC Cup second preliminary round, Bengaluru FC needs one more win in the next game to confirm their AFC Cup group stage slot, where, ATK Mohun Bagan placed in the Group D of AFC Cup, waiting to showcase their dominance in the group stage, which is set to begin from the month of August.

How Indian football clubs can be elite in Asia ?

However, most of the Indian football fans wants their club to be part of Asian football competitions. So, here the question arises, How Indian clubs can get more slots in AFC competitions like AFC Cup and AFC Champions League ?

The only way to get more slots in AFC competitions is that the Indian clubs must be elite in AFC club competition. Yes, just participating in AFC group stage matches will not give any additional slots for Indian clubs. 

Slots are allocated on the basis of how clubs from each country are performing in the AFC Club Competition and It will be ranked as per the performance of the club from each country. 

Based on the ranking, the top 12 countries will get direct slot and qualifier slots in the AFC Champions League group stage. In AFC Cup from South Zone India gets one direct slot and one qualifier slot in the group stage.

For example, Saudi Arabia Ranked 1st position in the AFC Club competition where they get 3 direct slots and 1 qualifier slot in AFC Champions League. Currently, India ranked 20th position in AFC club competition. The performance of Indian Clubs in the AFC Cup and AFC Champion League in 2021 will decide the slots for India for 2023 AFC club competitions.

Mumbai City FC will play the next edition of AFC Champion League from India and if they perform well in the group stage and qualify for the round of 16 (which is a little too much expectation from an Indian club, but Mumbai City FC has the financial power), it will be taken as a great success for an Indian club and there is still hopes on ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC which will play in AFC Cup 2021. 

But, it is unfortunate that only one team can qualify for the next round from Group D. If ATK Mohun Bagan or Bengaluru FC able to finish top in the Group Stage and qualify for the next rounds reaching Interzone playoff Final (or) Final of the AFC Cup, it will be great and India’s ranking in the AFC club competition will be increased from 20th position to some better position. 

If, ATK Mohun Bagan or Bengaluru FC win the AFC Cup 2021, they will get a slot in the qualifying stages for AFC Champions League 2022.

The improvement of ranking in AFC club competition will get more slots for Indian clubs in both AFC Champions League and AFC Cup. By participating consistently in AFC Cup and AFC Champions League Indian players can improve both tactically and technically.

If Indian clubs get 4 slots in the AFC club competitions the level of Indian clubs will improve by facing the top Asian clubs in the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup.

If Indian clubs play a dominant role in AFC club group stage matches and qualify for the knockout rounds in the upcoming years, it will bring more spectators and Indian football fans to the stadium and also TV viewership for Indian matches might get increased.

Increased viewership will bring more sponsors to Indian football means more money will be invested in Indian football, which Indian clubs can invest in grassroots development, building academies and stadium to increase their income and develop the club by nourishing the young Indian talents and bringing great manager and great players to the Indian clubs. 

Only this can increase the standard of Indian clubs in Asia and Indian clubs can only then be the Elite of Asian Football.

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