Interview by Farrokh Hesabi

Persepolis still have a chance to win IPL title: Mohsen Khalili

April 16, 2022 - 13:26

TEHRAN – Former Persepolis football team forward Mohsen Khalili says that the team still have a chance to win Iran Professional League (IPL) title.

Persepolis were knocked out of Iran's Hazfi Cup last week after losing 3-2 to Aluminum in the quarterfinals in Tehran's Azadi Stadium.

Yahya Golmohammadi's men sit six points behind Esteghlal in the Iran Professional League (IPL) title race with six rounds of fixtures to play.

But Khalili believes that the title holders, who have raised the expectations with their five league title in a row, still have a chance to win it for the sixth time.

“Persepolis have raised expectations with their good performance in recent years,” Khalili said in his exclusive interview with Tehran Times.

“But at the same time, the team have lost big players and have not been able to sign suitable replacements. In any team, if the players that are signed are not at the same level or higher than the previous players, the coordination of the team will be lost, and the quality of the performance will decrease.

“Of course, the players that Persepolis signed are good players, but they could not fill the vacancies left by the departed players and failed to meet the expectations,” he added.

During the 2007/08 season, Khalili became the top goalscorer by scoring 18 goals during the Persian Gulf Cup, which Persepolis won at the end.

He believes that the Persepolis players were lucky that the fans were not allowed in the stadium this season due to the Covid-19 issues. Otherwise, they would have been under a lot more pressure and stress.

When asked about the role of the Reds' technical staff in the recent failures, Khalili said: “When a team succeed, their technical staff is praised, so in case of failure, the role of the head coach and the technical staff should be considered, and they are definitely responsible for this situation.

“However, with the Persepolis' exit from the AFC Champions League and the Hazfi Cup, now the team should focus only on winning the league.

“Problems can be analyzed after the end of the season, but Persepolis need to raise team spirit and maintain their focus and unity in the current situation,” the former Iran national team player added.

Khalili expressed his belief that Persepolis can still beat Esteghlal in this season's IPL title race.

“It is not impossible to make up for six points in six remaining games. Persepolis have no margin for error as they look to continue putting pressure on Esteghlal. They must be a team that will drop very few points from now to the end of the campaign. In the final weeks, the fans' support, who are the main motivating factor of the team, can play an important role to help Persepolis achieve their goal," Khalili concluded.