AFC – ABU DHABI, Mehdi Taremi believes a never-say-die attitude can help Persepolis achieve their goal of becoming the first side from the Islamic Republic of Iran to lift the AFC Champions League.
Persepolis came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in the first leg of the quarter-final just under three weeks ago, and go into the second leg at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday looking to continue their fine run on the continent.
The Iranian champions will be spurred by the fact that they also drew the first leg with Lekhwiya in the Round of 16, before a 1-0 victory saw them progress to the last eight for the first time.
“From the very first game I have said that we are here to win the competition and that we will fight to the very end,” said Persepolis’ six-goal top scorer Taremi.
“It’s going to be difficult but I can guarantee that we are not going to quit easily and we’re not going to get beaten easily.
“We will fight until the very end and I’m very hopeful that we can achieve our goal.”
Taremi, who was among the key players as Iran qualified so impressively for their second successive FIFA World Cup, has been instrumental in his club side’s improvement on the continent.
After drawing with Al Hilal in their Group D opener, Taremi bagged a late brace to help his side to a 3-2 win over Al Wahda, before a treble against the same opposition in Persepolis’ final group outing confirmed their passage to the last 16.
“The game against Al Wahda was my favourite because I scored a hat-trick; this was very memorable for me although all the games have been great,” added Taremi.
The striker’s six goals have him joint second in the scoring charts behind Al Ain’s Omar Abdulrahman and Hulk of Shanghai SIPG, although he has failed to find the back of the net since the group stage after drawing blanks in his past three games.
Without his goals, though, Persepolis showed the fighting spirit Taremi has highlighted as Shojae Khalilzadeh and Godwin Mensha struck in the final 20 minutes of the first leg with the Jeddah-based club to secure a 2-2 draw.
“In the first leg the conditions in Oman were very hot so it felt like we were the visitors as we were not used to playing in that temperature,” said Taremi
“But I’m now going to do my absolute best to make sure I can score in the second leg against Al Ahli.”
Photos: Lagardère Sports