RIYADH — Saudi club Al-Hilal aims to start their Asian campaign on a positive note when they face Uzbekistan’s Navbahor as part of the first round of the 2023-2024 AFC Champions League.

The match is set to take place on Monday at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.

Al-Hilal’s coach, Jorge Jesus, stated that there is still uncertainty regarding Neymar’s participation in the AFC Champions League match against Navbahor, given that the Brazilian striker is currently experiencing some muscle discomfort.

Jesus informed the press during a conference on Sunday “Everyone knows that Neymar is highly skilled among all the world’s players and capable of delivering more. However, he is currently feeling some muscle pain, and his participation will be determined after Sunday’s training.”

Jesus added: “I will decide on the five foreign players participating in the match. We approach each game according to the opponent.”

He continued: “I encourage the fans to deliver a fantastic performance as they have in recent matches in the Saudi league. I know that Al-Hilal has reached the finals in recent years and clinched the championship.”

In the second match within the same group, Mumbai City FC of India will also play against FC Nassaji Mazandaran of Iran at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune.

Al-Hilal aims to secure their third championship title in recent years, especially after losing to Urawa Red Diamonds in the previous edition’s final.

Following that defeat, Al-Hilal underwent significant changes, signing several new players, including Neymar and Serbian striker Mitrović.

On the other hand, Navbahor returns to the group stage of the continental tournament after a 13-year absence. They aspire to make a positive impression in the group and attempt to advance to the knockout rounds.

The second round of group stage matches will take place on Oct.r 3, with Navbahor facing Mumbai City in Namangan and Nassaji Mazandaran playing against Al-Hilal in Tehran.

The top team in each group qualifies for the Round of 16 in the Western region, along with the three best second-placed teams from the five groups.

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