Asian experience key for Marfavi

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AFC – QOM, Saba Qom boss Samad Marfavi is banking on experience to help steer his team past Al Shabab Al Arabi in the AFC Champions League playoff on Saturday and into the Group Stages of the 2013 competition.

The pair face off in Qom’s Yadegar-e-Emam Stadium with Saba hoping to join compatriots Esteghlal, Sepahan and Tractorsazi in the competition proper and Marfavi, who was part of the Esteghlal side that won the Asian Club Championship title in 1991, is confident his team can progress.

“We have an important match in front of us,” he said. “There’s no second leg match to make amends for any possible mistakes, so we’ve got to put out a good show to grab the win,” said the 47-year-old.

“I’m well acquainted with Asian rivals and have the know-how to face teams at continental level. We’ve planned good tactics well in advance and know a lot about Al Shabab Al Arabi.”

Marfavi, whose team lies sixth in the Iranian league with 35 points, admits that his knowledge of his club’s United Arab Emirates-based rivals will not be enough to bring them the win, stressing that his players also need to perform well on the pitch.

Injury concerns do not seem to be a headache for the former national team striker ahead of Saturday’s play-off.

“Fortunately Iman Razzaghi has recovered,” said Marfavi. “He underwent final medical checks last night, but we have to wait for the team doctor to make up his mind on Iman’s availability for the match.”

Al Arabi Al Shabab’s Brazilian coach Marcos Paqueta does not believe Saba’s home field advantage will cause his team unnecessary issues and is confident his team’s current run of form can continue on Saturday.

“We have quite a few veteran players who are able to deal with such a situation,” said the former Saudi Arabia coach of his the prospect of facing a hostile crowd.

“We’re going head-to-head with 11 players from our rivals’ team and not their fans.

“We have retained our 10-game streak of not losing a match and have been on the right track. I’m hopeful we can continue to play in the same fashion tomorrow afternoon.

“We are looking forward to the match, we’re determined to put on an attacking show and book a berth in the AFC Champions League.”

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