Iran’s Persepolis will look to get their AFC Champions League campaign back on track when the Group A leaders entertain Saudi Arabian champions Al Nassr on Wednesday despite the recent departure of coach Hamid Derakhshan.
A long range strike from Poland midfielder Adrian Mierzejewski in the first half and late goals from Fabian Estoyanoff and Hassan Al Raheb saw Al Nassr hand Persepolis their first of the campaign last month in Riyadh last month.
And with Persepolis currently ninth in the Iran Pro League, Derakhshan resigned on Sunday with assistant Hossein Abdi named as interim coach.
Persepolis had won their first two matches against Bunyodkor and Qatari champions Lekhwiya, who are now a point further off the pace after beating the Uzbek side 1-0 two weeks ago ahead of the return fixture in Doha in the day’s later game.
However, defender Mohsen Bengar and midfielder Mohammad Noori, who have contributed three of the four goals scored by Persepolis in the AFC Champions League, will both miss the return meeting at the Azadi Stadium due to suspension.
Also in the West, Iranian champions Foolad Khouzestan make the trip to Riyadh to face two-time Asian champions Al Hilal seeking a first win of the campaign in Group C.
Foolad extended their unbeaten run in the AFC Champions League to 11 games two weeks ago after sharing a goalless draw with last year’s runners up Al Hilal at home.
“With these three points after three draws we have to wait and see what happens in the next matches. We have three games left in this group and we will try our best to take three wins out of these three games,” said Foolad coach Dragan Skocic, who will be without suspended midfielder Mohsen Mosalman.
“I’m always hopeful of qualifying; I believe we can take enough points from the next three games to seal our spot in the last 16.”
Al Hilal will also have absences of their own with midfielders Saud Kariri and Salman Al Faraj both suspended.
Group C pacesetters Al Sadd, meanwhile, travel to Tashkent to face Lokomotiv having posted a 6-2 win in Doha two weeks ago.
In Group G, table-toppers Beijing Guoan will look to extend their 100% record against bottom side Urawa Red Diamonds having posted a 2-0 win over the J.League side in China last month.
In the battle to keep pace with Beijing, Suwon Samsung find themselves level on points with A-League champions Brisbane Roar following last month’s 3-3 draw and the K-League Classic side will hope to create distance between themselves and their Australian counterparts in Korea Republic this week.
Finally in Group E, 2006 winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors travel to Vietnam to face Becamex Binh Duong having beaten the Vietnamese champions 3-0 in Jeonju two weeks ago, while Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol will travel to Jinan looking to build on last month’s 1-0 home win over Shandong Luneng.
CAPTION – Iran’s Persepolis suffered a 3-0 defeat by Saudi Arabian champions Al Nassr in the AFC Champions League last month.