ACL 2017 - AL Ahli vs Esteghlal preview
Dubai: Al Ahli are set to make their first appearance in the AFC Champions League since suffering a 1-0 aggregate defeat to Guangzhou Evergrande in the 2015 final when they host two-time Asian champions Esteghlal of Islamic Republic of Iran in Group A at Rashid Stadium on Monday.
The UAE Pro League champions have won their past three games domestically but remain nine points adrift of table-toppers Al Jazira. Coach Cosmin Olaroiu will likely hand Makhete Diop his first start in the competition after the prolific Senegalese striker joined the Dubai side from Al Dhafra earlier in the year.
Opponents Esteghlal, meanwhile, are on a fine run of form at home too, having won five Iran Pro League matches in a row, while they also claimed victory on their last visit to the UAE when they defeated Al Jazira 1-0 in the 2014 Group Stage.