We want to beat Al Duhail for our fans: Ivankovic

September 16, 2018

TEHRAN – Branko Ivankovic praised his team’s fans, saying Persepolis players feel the enthusiasm with their fans against Al Duhail.

Persepolis will host the Qatari giants in Tehran’s 80,000-seater Azadi Stadium in the second leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League quarter-finals on Monday.

The Reds lost to Al Duhail 1-0 two weeks ago in Doha.

Almoez Ali's header was the difference as Al Duhail secured a record-equaling ninth win in a row in this year's Asian Champions League.

“We lost to Al Duhail 1-0 in the first half and now we will host them in the second half in our home. We know how strong they are but Persepolis are not weaker than Al Duhail,” Ivankovic said in the pre-match news conference.

“Persepolis had a good performance in the first leg in Doha against such a strong team and we will have a difficult match with a star-studded team on Monday. The 1-0 result keeps alive both teams' hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. However, Al Duhail will play with less pressure since they have won the first leg,” the Croat added.

Persepolis key midfielder Siamak Nemati will be missing the vital match due to suspension.

“Unfortunately, Nemati is absent and Mahini (Hossein) and Resan (Bashar) have sustained injuries last week but they will play on tomorrow. They will not think about their injuries in the match against Al Duhail.

“Karim Boudiaf has returned from an injury and they have been boosted by return of their captain. Al Duhail strengthened their team in the summer and they are going to win the AFC Champions League title,” the Croat added.

Ivankovic called on the Persepolis’s fans to get behind their team against Al Duhail.

“Our fans have always supported us and have been patient with our players. They have always shown loyalty to their team and will do everything we can to make them happy They are our 12th man. We want them to support us in this match because we can feel the enthusiasm with our fans. I also want them to respect our opponent and show sportsmanship,” the former Iran national team coach concluded.

Reporting by Masoud Hossein

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