Persepolis in the toughest ACL group: Branko Ivankovic

February 18, 2017 - 15:32

Persepolis coach Branko Ivankovic says that they have been drawn in the toughest group in AFC Champions League.

The Iranian heavyweights return to the mix after missing out in 2016 and will open their campaign against two-time continental champions Al Hilal on Tuesday.

Despite boasting an impressive record domestically, Persepolis have yet to progress beyond the Round of 16 on the continent, while Al Hilal will be aiming to better their own last-16 performance from 2016 when they were ousted by Lokomotiv.

“We’re in the toughest group of the tournament. Al Hilal is our strongest opponent, Al Rayyan is the Qatar Champion while Al Wahda as well as Al Ain are the best UAE team. We need to be at our best in order to have the chance of qualifying,” Ivankovic told reporters.

“Al Hilal are the Saudi league title holders and they have a very good squad. Even the bench players are the ones who plays for Saudi Arabia national team,” the Croatian coach added.

“If Mehdi Taremi could be eligible to play for us this will be the first time in 13 weeks that we have our full squad available. We will make every effort to get the best result in Asian competition and make our fans happy,” he added.

In the other Group D clash, Qatar Stars League champions Al Rayyan, under the guidance of Michael Laudrup, meanwhile, will host Al Wahda of the United Arab Emirates with the teams’ last appearance in the AFC Champions League coming in 2014 and 2011 respectively.

SG

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