First match the toughest: Branko Ivankovic

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Tehran Times – TEHRAN, Persepolis coach Branko Ivankovic says the first match in a tournament can be the most difficult match.

Persepolis football team will host Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi in Group C of the 2018 AFC Champions League in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on Tuesday.

The Iranian giants’ outstanding form led them to achieve their best AFC Champions League performance ever in reaching the semi-final last year.

Persepolis also are on the verge of retaining their title in the Iranian league.

“Playing in the AFC Champions League is a great honor for me and I am very happy we play in front of our fans at home this year. I expect our fans to be our 12th man on Tuesday,” Ivankovic said in the pre-match news conference.

“Experience has proved to me that the first match always is the hardest match. We respect Nasaf and know that the Uzbek team have won four matches out of their five matches,” the Croat added.

“Nasf are a well-organized team and are among the country’s top four but we are also ready to meet them.

“For us is very important to begin the campaign with a win but we’re not taking anything for granted. We qualified for the ACL semis last year and it’s normal we are going to repeat our success in the current season,” Ivankovic stated.

“We’ve analyzed Nasaf in the previous days and I also know they’ve analyzed us but we believe in what we do and I am sure our players prove their potential,” the Persepolis coach concluded.


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