Ebrahimzadeh’s Pohang prep pays off

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AFC – ESFAHAN, Zob Ahan coach Mansour Ebrahimzadeh cited good preparation as the key to their 2-1 win over Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers in the first leg of their AFC Champions League quarter-final in on Wednesday.

Goals from Igor Castro and new signing Mahdi Rajabzadeh mean the Iranian league leaders will take a slender lead into the second leg at the home of the defending ACL champions next Wednesday.

Castro’s goal, which came after 18 minutes, was particularly pleasing for Ebrahimzadeh, as it resulted from a corner.

“We knew they’d play on the break and we were able to create chances (early on) and we took advantage of their weakness on set pieces to score our first goal,” he said.

The visitors started the better after the interval and equalised in the 55th minute through Castro’s Brazilian compatriot, Mota.

“We didn’t start well or cover each other as we should in the second half,” added Ebrahimzadeh, who is a native of Esfahan.

“But after that (equaliser), our tactics were good and we had excellent chances.”

Ebrahimzadeh was also delighted Zob Ahan performed to the expectations of the Iranian people.

“All Iran was watching us in this match to see what we would do and I’m happy that we were successful,” he added.

Rajabzadeh, who scored five ACL goals for Mes Kerman before signing for Zob Ahan in the summer, dispatched the penalty in the 75th minute to give the Iranians the win.

However, Ebrahimzadeh’s counterpart Park Chang-hyun thought it was mistakes from his side that handed victory to the hosts.

“In the second half we made one mistake and gifted them the penalty,” said the 44-year-old who is still, officially, the club’s caretaker coach.

However, Park believes Pohang will show the sort of form that carried them to success in the tournament last year in next week’s return leg.

“We played with a different system, started cautiously and played on the counter attack,” he said.

“I accept that we weren’t very fast but if you come to Korea next week you’ll see a better tempo from us.

“Be sure that in the second leg, especially in the second half, you’ll see a superb performance from Pohang.”

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