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AFC Champions League (West) group stage kicks off on Wednesday

Group stage games of AFC Champions League (west) set to be held in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and India are about to commence under the centralization system.

Abha (Saudi Arabia), 09/04/2021.- Al-Nassr's player Abdulrahman Al-Obaid (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Saudi Professional League soccer match between Damac and Al-Nassr at Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium, in Abha, Saudi Arabia,

AFC Champions League (west) group stage games get underway on Wednesday under the centralization system, which has been adopted by AFC since last season in a bid to curb the spread of Coronavirus.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the games of three groups, while India and UAE are set to be the venue for one group each.

Al-Hilal aim for a strong start in the ACL

The first group games held in Riyadh get underway on Thursday when Saudi Al-Hilal face AGMK of Uzbekistan with new hopes to make up for last year's elimination that came as a result of several Covid-19 infections among the Saudi league leaders' squad. Shabab Al Ahly of UAE will also clash with Istiklol of Tajikistan.

Fixtures of group B games to be played in Sharjah of UAE kick off on Wednesday as the group's host Sharjah FC take on Al-Quwa Al Jaweya of Iraq who are taking part in the tournament for the first time since 2008, meanwhile, the most experienced side in the group Uzbekistani Pakhtakor who have 17 appearances and were part of last year's edition quarter-final are meeting the ambitious Traktor of Iran.

As for Group C, Qatari Al Duhail are set to play against Al Shorta of Iraq on Thursday whereas Al Ahli Al Saudi take on Iranian Esteghlal F.C.

Group D fixtures will commence with two clashes between Al Nassr and Jordanian Al Wehdat, and Qatari Al Sadd and Foolad of Iran.

Al Sadd looking for a historic run with Xavi

Al Nassr who have made it to last year's semi-final hope they can go as far as possible in this year's tournament to make up for their poor domestic season. Meanwhile, Xavi's Al Sadd start their continental campaign with boosted morale after securing the Qatari league title without a single defeat and lifting the Qatari cup as well.

In Group E hosted by India, last year's runners-up Perspolis are clashing with Al Wehda of UAE while Indian GOA who are making their debut in the tournament take on Qatari Al Rayyan.