By Farrokh Hesabi

What a great start to 2021 ACL for Iranian teams

April 20, 2021 - 12:43

TEHRAN – The four Iranian teams have been amazing so far at the 2021 AFC Champions League.

There’s none of the usual gathering of tens of thousands of supporters in the host city; however, five wins and three draws in the eight matches of the stage groups means that the Iranian clubs are well-prepared and well-equipped for the most prestigious club tournament of the Asian Football Confederation, even without their fans.

Esteghlal have destroyed their opponents so far. They cruised to a 5-2 victory against Al Ahli Saudi FC and then run riot against Al Shorta of Iraq with a 3-0 win on Matchday Two in Group C. Farhad Majidi has established his tactical instructions at the team. Group C was supposed to be “the group of death,” but the Blues make it the group of life for themselves.

Brilliant performances by Mehdi Ghaedi, Farshid Esmaeili, Mohammad Naderi, and Cheick Diabaté have made Esteghlal’s fans hoping to see their team on the knockout stage sooner than expected.

Persepolis, last year’s ACL finalists, started the campaign with a 1-0 win over the UAE’s Al Wahda. They have shown the highest intensity and determination in their games as they came from behind to beat Al Rayyan of Qatar in their second game in Group E.

The champions of four consecutive past seasons of Iran Professional League (IPL) have transferred their excellent run of domestic games to the continental tournament.

Their devastating attacking talent is a constant threat to any opponents’ defense, and the Reds can score in every minute of every game. After failing in last year's final, Yahya Golmohammadi’s side are targeting Champions League glory.

Tractor continue their pursuit of the first win in Group B, although they have played thrilling matches so far and have kept their hopes intact to qualify for the next round with the new coach Rasoul Khatibi.

Foolad Khuzestan have maintained their intensity in their past three games, beginning with the playoff win against UAE’s Al Ain. With one draw and one victory, they have reached a crucial stage. Brazilian striker Chimba has been in form and is the main hope for Javad Nekounam's side to score at the tournament.

Iranian teams are to continue their successful start to their 2021 ACLs; focus and recovery will be key for them in the path to glory.

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