Mahini injury is a blow, admits Hosseini

Hossein Mahini

AFC - Persepolis captain Jalal Hosseini believes the absence of injured defender Hossein Mahini will make things difficult in Tuesday's AFC Champions League semi-final second leg against Al Sadd, despite the 1-0 lead on aggregate.

Islamic Republic of Iran giants Persepolis will be just a game away from a first AFC Champions League final when they step out onto the field at Azadi Stadium against Qatar's Al Sadd, but it is one who will not be in their ranks that is a cause of concern.

Team Melli international full-back Hossein Mahini suffered a season-ending ACL injury in a league match against city-rivals Esteghlal at the end of last month, forcing Persepolis to put out a makeshift backline in the first leg against Al Sadd in Doha.

"Not having such an experienced defender like Hossein Mahini in our ranks is a major blow for our team," Persepolis skipper Hosseini told media.

"We are already facing a shortage of players due to the transfer bans in the last two windows, so it makes things tough."

There is more positive squad news for the Iranians, though, as defender Mohammad Ansari and midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia are available for selection once again after serving one-match suspensions.

Head coach Branko Ivankovic will likewise return to the dugout after he was also suspended for the semi-final first leg. 

“We defeated Al Sadd in the first meeting with a remarkable performance, but they have professional players and will travel to Tehran to beat us,” added Hosseini.

“Hopefully, we can defeat a strong Al Sadd side on Tuesday and advance to the AFC Champions League final for the first time to make our fans happy."


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