By Farrokh Hesabi

Ex-Persepolis midfielder Abdi optimistic on Al Hilal match

September 25, 2021 - 19:6

TEHRAN - Former Persepolis midfielder Hossein Abdi thinks that the Reds can win the match against Saudi's Al Hilal in the 2021 AFC Champions League quarter-finals.

With the win against Istiklol from Tajikistan, the Iran Professional League champions, Persepolis, look to win the title for the first time after finishing runners-up in the 2018 and 2020 behind Japan's Kashima Antlers and Korea Republic's Ulsan Hyundai, respectively.

Abdi, who is currently the head coach of the Iran national U17 team, says Al Hilal are a great team but not unbeatable.

“Persepolis have done great so far in the AFC Champions League, and it's not just about the current season. They have done superbly in every season in the last editions, and this can pave the way for them as they are more experienced than before,” Abdi told Tehran Times. .

"Al Hilal have always been one of the Asian heavyweights with a lot of trophies in their cabinet. They are looking to claim the AFC Champions League trophy that they won in 2019. They have big names in their squad and have spent a lot of money to make their team stronger.

“Moreover, they have a vast support base in their country, and the bad news for us is that they host the games in the next round. It's an important advantage for them,” he added.

With four former champions among the eight teams in the draw, blockbuster ties await fans with the centralized single-leg quarter-finals and semi-finals of the East Region to be played in the Korea Republic and the West Region matches and Final hosted in Saudi Arabia.

In the West Zone quarter-finals, UAE's Al Wahda FSCC will face Saudi Arabia's Al Nassr, while two-time runners-up Persepolis meet 2019 champions Al Hilal SFC.

“Against Esteghlal – in Round of 16- Al Hilal showed their football class in some minutes, but in general, they also had some weaknesses in their play. Esteghlal were unlucky that their forwards couldn't find back of the net of the Saudi's team,” said the former player of Persepolis.

When asked about the changes in the squad of Persepolis, Abdi said: “Persepolis have lost great players and also have signed some good players as well. They have faced some changes in the club's management level. In my opinion, these changes are more important and can affect the team more,” Abdi said.

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