Mumbai City FC’s 2-1 win over Iraqi side Al Quwa Al Jawiya, also known as the Air Force Club, in their second Group B match of the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2022 on April 11, 2022, will go down as a watershed moment in Indian football history.

The victory, after all, was the first-ever win recorded by an Indian club at the AFC Champions League – Asia’s premier footballing competition.

The manner of the victory also complemented the occasion as the former Indian Super League (ISL) champions came from behind to claim the slice of history.

After a goalless first-half, Des Buckingham’s men fell behind as Hammadi Ahmed gave the Iraqi football team the lead just before the hour mark but MCFC fought back with foreign recruit Diego Mauricio converting a penalty in the 70th.

The winning goal, perhaps rightfully, belonged to an Indian as Rahul Bheke headed in for glory in the 75th minute of the match played at the iconic King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was a moment Indian football fans were waiting for for over five decades.

Started as the Asian Champion Club Tournament in the 1960, the AFC Champions League took its current form in the year 2002. India’s association at the continental club football level, however, has been largely limited to the AFC Cup – the second-tier tournament behind the ACL.

Over the years, Indian teams had their moments on the AFC Cup stage, the highlight being Bengaluru FC reaching the final in 2016, Incidentally, it was the same Air Force Club who denied the Blues a historic title on that occasion.

The trend finally changed in 2021 after FC Goa earned a direct qualification to the AFC Champions League 2021 after topping the Indian Super League (ISL) 2019-20 table and winning the inaugural ISL League Winner’s Shield.

FC Goa became the first Indian team to play in the AFC Champions League last season but failed to record a victory. Despite some impressive showings, the Gaurs failed to make it beyond the group stage, as they managed three draws and three losses to finish third in Group E.

Mumbai City FC, who were recently taken over by the Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group, a body which also owns English Premier League giants Manchester City, earned their qualification to this year’s ACL after winning the ISL League Shield in the 2020-21 season, a campaign which also saw them clinch the ISL trophy.

MCFC are currently bottom of Group B in ACL 2022 after three matches but with just four points between them and table toppers Al-Shabab, the Indian side can still turn things around in their remaining three matches and advance beyond the group stage to script another piece of history.