Tehran Times - Esteghlal head coach Alireza Mnasourian believes that despite the massive blow in the transfer market, his young talented side is ready to take on Al Sadd in the AFC Champions League Play-off on Tuesday.
“This is one of the biggest game of the season for us. We have analyzed Al Sadd and we’re quite familiar with the way they play. They have world class players like Xavi but we’re not the underdogs. We have young motivated players and also fabulous fans who are our 12th player on the pitch during in our home games,” Esteghlal head coach Alireza Mansourian told reporters in the pre-match press conference.
Mansourian, who lost his new signing players after the FIFA transfer ban, stated that he has forgotten the past and looks forward to the future with his current squad.
“We had two great signings but we lost them due to the ban. I’m not going to talk about the past as we have a talented young squad who can change any game,” Mansourian added.
On the other side Al Sadd Portuguese head coach Jesualdo Ferreira believes that his men have a tough task ahead on Tuesday.
“We have a tough game against Esteghlal who will be supported by his fans at home. This is a playoff match and there is no second chance for both sides. We know Esteghlal very well, they are a strong team but we have our own plan against them,” Jesualdo Ferreira told reporters.
With a total of four Asian championships between them, the 2017 AFC Champions League Play-off showdown between Esteghlal and Al Sadd at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium is certain to be one to savor with a place in Group A on the line.
In the AFC Champions League era, Tuesday’s hosts Esteghlal have represented Iran seven times – second only to Sepahan – although the two-time Asian Club Championship winners have not gone further than the semi-finals (2013).
Like Esteghlal, Al Sadd missed out on the 2016 edition but the Qataris – continental champions in 1989 and 2011 – will be keen to return to the highest level of Asian club football. And with former Barcelona veteran Xavi pulling the strings in midfield, 2017 could be a campaign to remember.
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