Football - Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City FC want to put their best foot forward in representing India in the AFC Champions League next month. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Kolkata: Mumbai City FC, who will be representing India in the AFC Champions League in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia next month, began a two-week training camp Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to acclimatise themselves with the conditions in the Gulf region. They have set up base at the Al Forsan resort in the UAE capital.

A part of the City Football Group, the Mumbai-headquartered team qualified for their first appearance in the continental tournament after becoming champions in the Indian Super League for 2020-21 season. They also lifted the League Winners’ Shield by topping the league table, thus becoming only the second Indian club (after FC Goa) to secure a ticket in Asia’s biggest club competition.

Drawn in Group B in the West Region of the 2022 AFC Champions League, Mumbai City FC is clubbed with Al Jazira (UAE), Al Shabab (Saudi Arabia) and Air Force Club (Iraq) for the league matches which get under way on April 8.

Des Buckingham, Head Coach of the club said: “After a six-month season living in a bubble in the ISL, the players have had a small break in the past days. We now turn our attention to preparing as well as possible in Abu Dhabi, taking the positives from the league campaign and building on the learnings. We have a very young squad here and the experiences gained, combined with a fresh mindset will help us focus on our next objective for our continental campaign.

‘‘We now have time to acclimatise to the conditions and prepare the squad for what will be an exciting challenge ahead. The players, coaches, staff - everyone at Mumbai City is determined to prepare in the best way possible for what’s going to be an important experience and historical moment for the club. We’re excited and we look forward to the AFC Champions League,” he said.

Kandarp Chandra, CEO, Mumbai City FC added: “At the AFC Champions League, we will be representing not only our city but all of India. It’s a challenge and a responsibility and it is important to us that we prepare for it in the best way possible. As a club, we’re looking forward to the invaluable experience of playing at the highest level in Asia and we hope to give a good account of ourselves and make our fans proud.”

The UAE has, in the past, acted as the base for training camps of several Indian football teams over the years.