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IRNA - No matter the non-Tehrani sides have developed and will represent Iran in the Asian club events, the big
Persepolis-Esteqlal derby is something else.
Coaches and players can`t help thinking of the traditional game and the die-hard fans ranging from children to the aged keep bragging everywhere.
Some go far and pretend they hate the opposite side`s color, keeping away from all similar hues.
They try to prove the color of their popular team`s jersey is superior, trotting out the cliches that "Sky is blue" or "Blood is red".
The hot rivalry may begin at home where its members have different tastes.
Weeks before the eagerly-awaited derby, the football and security officials are exploring the ways for holding a tension-free and healthy match.
A packed 100,000-seater Azadi Stadium and sensation of millions of passionate fans gluing to their TV sets even beyond the borders is difficult to control.
Former and current Persepolis and Esteqlal managers and players, veteran and young experts, referees, and mass media focus on the derby earlier, wishing for "fair play".
The tickets are sold out within hours and the football-crazy people rush to the stadium in early morning.
In spite of national players in their lineup, the two sides have rarely played a crowd-pleasing game in the recent years as excitement has reached its climax.
The fans boast about their favorite side`s top goalscorers and wins but the red camp prides itself on having a surprising 6-0 victory over Esteqlal on September 7, 1973.
Persepolis phenom Hossein Kalani opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, Iraj Soleimani grabbed his double on 45 and 56 minutes, and Homayoun Behzadi scored a hat-trick in the 50th, 86th, and 90th minutes.
Persepolis and Esteqlal started their clash on March 16, 1968, which ended in a goalless draw and the honors were even for the two popular teams and fans.
Out of 55 matches, Persepolis has 14 wins and Esteqlal 17 of which three were decided by the Football Federation due to crowd invasion or the reds` walkout as a gesture of opposition to the referee`s judgment.
The two sides have been scheduled to meet on February 2 at their 56th rendezvous on the manicured turf of Azadi Stadium where over 100,000 boisterous flag-waving fans` skull-splitting cheers, boos, catcalls, blare of horns, and whistles echo through the area.
A referee and two linesmen from the football-mad Turkey will judge the derby, scotching the usual match-fixing rumor.
Although the capital`s archrivals have a cutthroat competition, they join in flying the flag when the national prestige is the question.