By: Masoud Hossein

Iran Professional League new season to kick off on Thursday

July 26, 2017 - 19:8

The new season of Iran Professional League (IPL) will kick off on Thursday. In a year ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the players will go to the field to show their best to have a chance of being invited to the national team.

Regardless of some financial issues, Persepolis are well-prepared to defend their title in the new season.

Branko Ivankovic’s men played several warm-up matches with Ukrainian teams in the last month.

Persepolis also won Iran’s Super Cup last week, defeating Naft Tehran 3-0.

The Reds have signed Nigerian striker Godwin Mensha and Sepahan defender Shoja Khalilzadeh in the summer transfer window. 

Sepahan, the most decorated team in IPL, also are favorite to win the title for the sixth time.

Zlatko Kranjkar, who has also had a short stint with Persepolis in 2009, has returned to Isfahan to win the title once again after leading Sepahan to title in 2011–12 season.

IPL runners-up Esteghlal are also aiming to overtake arch-rivals Persepolis but the Blues have an uphill task in the new season since they have not been successful in the summer transfer window.

Last season’s third-placed Tractor Sazi will start the new season under guidance of former Persepolis coach Yahya Golmohammadi after parting company with Amir Ghalenoei.

The Iran Professional League is a professional football league competition for clubs at the highest level of the Iranian football league system.

 It was founded in 1970 as the Takht Jamshid Cup, but the current format was adopted in 2001. Contested by 16 teams, it is ranked by the Asian Football Confederation as the 2nd best league in Asia and the best league in Western Asia.

The Persian Gulf Pro League is the top tier of an extensive pyramid-like structure, above the Azadegan League (or 1st Division), the 2nd division, the 3rd Division and the lower local leagues. Since the league's creation in 2001, seven different teams have become league champions.

The first week’s matches are as follow:

Thursday:
* Siah Jamegan – Zob Ahan
* Esteghlal Khuzestan – Tractor Sazi
* Naft Tehran – Sepidrood Rasht
* Persepolis – Foolad

Friday:
* Gostaresh Foolad – Pars Jonoubi Jam
* Sepahan – Saipa
* Paykan – Padideh
* Sanat Naft – Esteghlal

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