Tasnim - Iranian football clubs Tractor Sazi of Tabriz and Zob Ahan of Isfahan will start the 2018 AFC Champions League against Saudi Arabian and Qatari teams respectively on Monday.
Tractor Sazi will face Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in Group A at Al Seeb Stadium in Oman on Monday as the sides get set to meet for just the third time.
Tractor Sazi reached the last 16 on its most recent appearance in the tournament two years ago, while a year earlier they drew one and lost one against Monday’s opponent as Al Ahli topped the group and the Iranian team was eliminated.
Al Ahli enjoyed a strong campaign last season with Syrian striker Omar Al Soma among the goals as it reached the quarter-final before going down to Iranian opposition in the form of Persepolis.
Also, Zob Ahan will meet Al Duhail of Qatar in Group B in Doha’s Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.
It will be a debut on the continent as Al Duhail, with the club having formed following the merger of Lekhwiya and El Jaish. The former twice reached the quarter-final on the continent – in 2013 and 2015 – while the latter enjoyed a run to the semi-final in 2016.
Zob Ahan is competing in its sixth AFC Champions League and no Iranian club has come closer to winning the competition, after the Isfahan based team finished as runner-up back in 2010.
Its last trip to Qatar, meanwhile, yielded an impressive 1-0 away victory over Lekhwiya thanks to Mehdi Rajabzadeh’s solitary strike. The attacking midfielder, along with many of the other players that were on display that night, is likely to take to the pitch once more come Monday.
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