103rd Tehran derby

Tehran Times - The 103rd Tehran derby is set to take place on Wednesday at the Azadi Stadium, reigniting the fierce rivalry between Tehran’s football giants, Persepolis and Esteghlal. This historic event not only generates emotions in Iran’s sporting community but also resonates deeply within society.

Excitement is palpable among the fans as they eagerly anticipate the upcoming clash. Both Persepolis and Esteghlal stand as leading contenders for winning trophy in the 2023/24 Iran Persian Gulf Professional League (PGPL).

Under the leadership of head coach Javad Nekounam, Esteghlal currently lead the table with 42 points from 19 matches. Recent victories include two 1-0 wins over Sepahan and Esteghlal Khoozestan, along with a 1-1 draw against Malavan.

Persepolis, positioned second in the league with 39 points, have displayed consistent performance throughout the season. However, they must secure a win in the upcoming Tehran derby to challenge for the top spot. The team saw a change in coaching staff mid-season, with Osmar Loss Vieira replacing Yahya Golmohammadi. Since Osmar's tenure as head coach, Persepolis have demonstrated fantastic attacking football, garnering support and hope from fans for success in the derby.

Adding to the historic occasion, a woman will join the refereeing team for the first time in Iran, serving as a video assistant referee (VAR) in the Tehran derby, signifying a new era in the Iranian men’s football.

In a heartwarming gesture on Monday, players from both teams visited children with cancer at a Tehran hospital, extending their support and compassion beyond the football field.

With 49 draws, 27 wins for Persepolis, and 26 wins for Esteghlal in the 102 matches played thus far, the Tehran derby stands as a testament to skill, passion, and rivalry.

As the highly anticipated match approaches, both teams face challenges. Esteghlal will be without Kevin Yamga due to a severe eye injury sustained last month, while Persepolis will miss Hossein Kananizadegan due to suspension and Giorgi Gvelesiani due to injury, casting uncertainty over his participation in the game.