By Farrokh Hesabi

We respect Al Hilal but we are Persepolis: coach

September 18, 2021 - 20:13

TEHRAN – Persepolis coach Hamid Motahari has reflected on the team’s match against Istiklol of Tajikistan and their next match in the AFC Champions League (ACL) against Saudi’s Al Hilal.

In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, Motahari admitted that the pressure on Persepolis was high before the Round of 16.

“Many people thought that we had an easy game. But I said before the match against Istiklol that the Tajik team are good enough to challenge any opponent in Asia. They had the hosting right and had their supporters in the venue. The Tajik people were kind, and they treated us very well, but the facilities like the artificial turf and the training fields were not at the level of Champions League, and it made the situation more difficult for us,” Motahari said.

“Istiklol were well-organized in performing their tactical plan, which was to defend and counter-attack. We had many plans to attack them, but they resisted well until the final moments of the match. Fortunately, we were able to break their defensive wall and win the game,” he added.

When asked about the ACL’s West Zone quarter-finals, where Persepolis will meet Al Hilal, Motahari said that it did not matter which opponent they would face.

“We want to win the trophy in Asia. So, every opponents are respectable for us, but we don’t fear to face this one or another. Persepolis are so strong that other teams are afraid of facing us. Al Hilal are a great team with great players. Besides, the matches will be played in their country, and it’s a great advantage for them. However, we are Persepolis and we will focus on our strength,” added Motahari.

The Persepolis' former player and current assistant coach also talked about the changes in their team in the summer.

“We lost great players like Ahmad Nourollahi and Hossein Kananizadegan. They did a lot for our team and were influential players. However, we, as the Persepolis coaching staff, have tried to build a team that is tactic-oriented rather than man-oriented. Our most prominent star is our team and not the players. Although, I emphasize that we have great players who do their best for the team in every minute of every game,” he said.

“We tried to bring the players that can play a role in our tactical plans, and we think that we have done well in the transfer window. Every single player in our team is extremely important for us, and we have a great squad, but I again confirm that our superstar is our team,” Motahari concluded.

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