AFC – KUALA LUMPUR, The four semi-finalists at the 2018 AFC Champions League will be confirmed in the coming days, with the second legs of the quarter-finals to take place between Monday and Wednesday.
Al Sadd, Al Duhail, Kashima Antlers and Suwon Samsung Bluewings are well placed ahead of the fixtures, but there remains all to play for as Esteghlal, Persepolis, Tianjin Quanjian and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors look to come back from first-leg deficits.
Persepolis v Al Duhail
Something has to give on Monday at Azadi Stadium, where Qatar’s Al Duhail take a slender 1-0 lead into the return meeting with Persepolis of the Islamic Republic of Iran in what is the tightest of the four quarter-final clashes.
Almoez Ali scored the only goal of the game in Doha to maintain Al Duhail’s 100 percent record as they matched Ulsan Hyundai’s nine successive wins from the 2012 competition. One more victory would set a new record for a single campaign, although Ulsan did record 11 wins in a row between 2012 and 2014.
Persepolis, though, have won all four of their games in front of home support and recovered from a first-leg deficit against Al Jazira in the Round of 16. They have conceded just once at Azadi Stadium and are chasing a second consecutive semi-final.
Al Sadd v Esteghlal
The 2011 AFC Champions League winners Al Sadd go into the second leg against Esteghlal on Monday with a two-goal advantage after coming from behind to run out comfortable 3-1 winners in the first leg in Tehran.
The Qatari hosts remain the last team from West Asia to lift the continental title and are firm favourites to advance after second-half goals from Akram Afif and the competition’s top scorer Baghdad Bounedjah silenced a packed Azadi Stadium.
Esteghlal’s only semi-final appearance came in 2013 and, although they came back from a losing position in the Round of 16 against domestic rivals Zobahan, this time the Iranian side will have to do so away from home and score at least three goals.