Financialtribune - The 2018 AFC Champions League has been full of drama, excitement, goals and surprises, and after the conclusion of the Round of 16 last week, will now take a three-month break before the eight remaining sides return for the quarterfinals in August.
The draw for the quarterfinals will be held Wednesday at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur. From Iran, Esteghlal and Persepolis are present in the last 8 teams, AFC reported.
Esteghlal had a slow start in its Group D campaign, where the Blues opened with a 2-2 draw against Al Rayyan of Qatar. Despite drawing twice more with the UAE’s Al Ain, the Tehran side finished as group winner, finishing unbeaten.
It suffered the first defeat of the tournament against fellow Iranian side Zobahan FC in the first leg of Round of 16, losing 1-0, but a Mame Thiam hat-trick in the return leg gave it a 3-1 win, maintaining its unbeaten home record as the Blues progressed to the quarterfinals 3-2 on aggregate.
Persepolis had a dream start in Group C, registering three consecutive wins but a 1-0 loss to Al Wasl of the UAE and a goalless draw with Uzbekistan’s Nasaf meant its qualification came down to Matchday Six.
Branko Ivankovic’s men did not find the back of the net that night but a third minute own goal by Al Sadd’s player proved to be enough to propel Persepolis to the top of the group and a Round of 16 appearance.
Persepolis then suffered a 3-2 loss to Al Jazira of the UAE in the first leg, but the Reds’ away goals paid dividends a week later in the second leg when they secured a 2-1 victory to advance despite a 4-4 aggregate score. Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Bieranvand leads the way in terms of shutouts, keeping five clean sheets in eight games as the Tehran team progressed to its second quarterfinals in a row.
Bieranvand’s compatriot, Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri, made the highest number of saves in the first eight games. The Zobahan custodian saved his goal 31 times, however, he cannot shine any more in the tournament as has side was eliminated in the last 16 tie against Esteghlal.