Quarter-final 2nd leg – Preview: Persepolis v Al Duhail
Tehran: After a narrow home victory, Al Duhail are aiming to hold on to a slender advantage when they visit last year’s semi-finalists Persepolis in the second leg of the quarter-finals on Monday. Almoez Ali's header was the difference as Al Duhail hosted Persepolis two weeks ago, a ninth win on the trot meant the Qatari side equalled the record for most consecutive wins in a single AFC Champions League campaign.
For Persepolis, the result takes them into familiar territory, having to overturn a one-goal deficit at Azadi Stadium just as they did against Al Jazira in the previous round, although this time they did not manage to score in the away first leg.
Last year's AFC Champions League semi-finalists, Persepolis, will require a rigid defensive display to shut out their free-scoring opponents.
Having already kept five clean sheets in the current edition of the tournament, Branko Ivankovic will build on this solid foundation in their bid to book a semi-final ticket for a second year running.
Seven goals conceded in their last three fixtures is a far cry from their dominance in the group stage, and Persepolis fans will be hoping for significant improvement on Monday.
After losing several key players who pursued European careers, such as Farshad Ahmadzadeh and Vahid Amiri, Ivankovic is eager to prove his team is still amongst the best in the continent by taking them to a second consecutive AFC Champions League semi-final.
Having struggled to break into the first team in his first season at Persepolis, Bashar Resan was one of the main benefactors of the departure of Ahmadzadeh, taking an increasingly more important role in midfield.
Equally competent in defence and attack, the former Air Force Club midfielder averages a key pass every 37 minutes and a defensive action every 49 minutes.
The reigning Qatar Stars League champions have been a sight to behold in the ACL Champions League this season, winning all nine of their matches in the tournament so far. The latest was their 1-0 victory over Persepolis in Doha tn the reverse leg.
The tie is far from over though, and Nabil Maaloul will be sure to drive that message home to his players. Al Duhail have averaged an impressive 2.5 goals per match on the road; and an away goal in Tehran could be just what they need to reach the last four.
With Youssef Msakni still sidelined due to a cruciate ligament injury, Brazilian-Belgian Edmilson joined in the summer from Standard Liege.
The 24-year-old winger marked his AFC Champions League debut by setting up Ali's headed goal, and he will be expected to play a key role behind striker Youssef El Arabia alongside Ali and Korea Republic playmaker Nam Tae-hee.
Check the whole match details here