Persepolis captain Hosseini out to erase memory of 2018 Asian Champions loss

Michael Church
·2-min read

By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Persepolis captain Jalal Hosseini will seek to make amends for his side's Asian Champions League final loss two years ago when the Iranians take on South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai in Doha as the continental championship concludes on Saturday.

The Iranians suffered a 2-0 loss over two legs at the hands of Japan's Kashima Antlers in their first appearance in the deciding match of Asia's leading club competition in 2018, and the veteran defender is focused on ensuring a better outcome this time.

"Conditions differ between matches; the conditions we had in the 2018 final are different to the conditions here in the 2020 final," the former Iran international said.

"We have many different players and also, we are playing a single leg at a neutral ground instead of home and away.

"This makes the game difficult for both teams because you cannot afford to make mistakes and have to be focused throughout.

"In 2018, we were not able to become champions of Asia, but we are here to compensate and are fully motivated."

The Al Janoub Stadium, one of the eight venues to be used when Qatar holds the 2022 World Cup, will host the final as a one-off match after the Gulf state staged the competition in a centralised format following its initial suspension in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Persepolis qualified for the final in early October with a semi-final win over Al Nassr, with Yahya Golmohammadi’s side defeating the Saudi Arabian club in a penalty shootout, having played out much of the game with 10 men following Ehsan Pahlavan’s red card.

As a result, the Tehran-based club are without Pahlavan and winger Vahid Amiri, who picked up a second yellow card of the competition in the semi-final, while prolific striker Issa Alekassir is currently serving a six-month ban.

"We put in a lot of effort and overcame plenty of difficulties," said Hosseini.

"But here we are in a position we deserve to be, which is the final of the 2020 Asian Champions League."

Golmohammadi, who took over as head coach at the start of the year, has his sights firmly set on handing Ulsan their first defeat in this year’s competition.

"Ulsan Hyundai are a very good team, and they are fighters just like us," he said. "I promise Persepolis fans that we will fight from start to finish and give everything to bring the trophy home and bring joy to our fans."

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by William Maclean)