West Zone Matchday 2 Group A: Esteghlal looking to break Saudi hoodoo

FOX Sports Asia previews the second round of games in Group A of this year’s AFC Champions League Group Stage West Zone.

Esteghlal vs Al Taawoun

Iranian side Esteghlal head into their second Group A match looking to make up for a disappointing last-minute 2-1 loss to Al Ahli in the opening tie last week.

The Iranian side will also be hoping for a change of fortunes against Saudi opposition having lost their last three games to Saudi Arabian teams.

Esteghlal coach Alireza Mansourian said they would try to achieve a win despite playing the game in Muscat, Oman.

“It was a shock start for us in this season’s AFC Champions League. But we have forgotten the past as we’re ready for the game against Al Taawoun. We know Al Taawoun quite well as we have analyzed their previous games,” Mansourian told the pre-match press conference.
“This is a home game for us but unfortunately we’re not playing at home. This could’ve been perfect if we could play in front of our fans at Tehran’s Azadi stadium,” he added.

Al Taawoun come into the game full of confidence following a 1-0 win over Lokomotiv Tashkent in their AFC Champions League debut.

Al Taawoun’s Romanian coach Constantin Galca will be looking for more of the same, especially from skipper Talal Al Absi, whose second-half strike helped to see off their Uzbek opponents.

Lokomotiv vs Al Ahli FC

In group A’s other clash, last year’s quarterfinalists Lokomotiv need to rectify their scoring problems if they want to register their first points of this campaign.

The Uzbeks have failed to score in five of their last six AFC Champions League matches and were goalless again in a disappointing loss to Al Taawoun in their opener last week.

Al Ahli, meanwhile, will be looking for more of the same from Senegalese striker Makhete Diop as they seek to solidify their place at the top of Group A.

Diop was the star performer on matchday one with an outstanding display, topped with a goal in each half as the Emirati team grabbed a late win over a dogged Esteghlal side.

Diop caused the Esteghlal defence all sorts of problems and Lokomotiv will have a hard time getting anything from the game if they fail to deal with the prolific striker.