Fighting spirit behind Persepolis’ form, says captain Hosseini

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AFC – ABU DHABI, Jalal Hosseini has pinpointed Persepolis’ fighting spirit and huge support as the reasons for their success in the 2017 AFC Champions League ahead of the Tehran-based side’s quarter-final second leg with Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli on Tuesday.

Club captain Hosseini was suspended for the first leg last month when the Iranian side came from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw in Muscat, and the defender will now return for the second leg in Abu Dhabi with the hope of leading his team to a first-ever semi-final in the competition.

Persepolis have already produced their best AFC Champions League performance ever in reaching the last eight after a 1-0 second leg win over Lekhwiya in the previous round proved enough to advance by the same scoreline on aggregate.

“We may not be among the richest clubs in Asia, especially compared to clubs in the Gulf region, but there’s no doubt we have the biggest fan base,” said Hosseini.

“And Persepolis have the best support in Asian football; because of this support, we fight. It gives us extra motivation and determination to make sure we can get great results.

“This is what we have always tried to do and will continue to do.”

Hosseini, who has more than 100 caps for the Islamic Republic of Iran and is part of the squad that have qualified for next year’s FIFA World Cup, is currently in his second spell with Persepolis.

Having spent two seasons with the club between 2012 and 2014, the defender moved to another Al Ahli, in Qatar, before signing for Naft Tehran in 2015.

After just one campaign back in Iran, he returned to Persepolis, where he helped them claim the Iranian Pro League title earlier in the year.

Form on the continent has been equally impressive, with the side advancing to the Round of 16 for the fourth time before the defeat of Lekhwiya set up an enticing clash with Al Ahli.

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