AFC – TEHRAN, Jalal Hoseini has issued a rallying cry to the Persepolis fans ahead of Saturday’s 2018 AFC Champions League final second leg against Kashima Antlers of Japan.
The Islamic Republic of Iran giants are 2-0 down after the first leg and targeting a third comeback in this year’s knockout stage, after they overturned deficits against Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar’s Al-Duhail earlier in the competition.
Both those recoveries took place in front of packed houses at the Azadi Stadium, and Hoseini is calling on one last push from the faithful at one of Asia’s most famous arenas this weekend.
“They are so important. They have always been beside us, especially this year when we have been in some difficult situations,” he said.
“They have acted like our strong arm in different matches and have never left our side. We have reached the final with their support but we wasted one match.
“However, there are still 90 minutes left. And this is the final moment for them. I want to ask them to be just like the players and not waste any energy before kick off. We, the players and fans both, have to start together with full energy. I ask them not to waste any energy because we need it during the match.”
A goal from Kashima would leave Persepolis needing four in return, and the 36-year-old knows keeping a steady balance between defence and attack will be key.
“The most important thing is not to concede any goals. And at the same time we have to score – we have to do two difficult things at the same time. But we have our fans beside us and we have to be incredibly motivated.
“By working hard and maintaining an understanding of the situation we have to play very well from the first minute.”
“I can only promise that I will try to do the best I can. We can do big things together. But it is a very tough match for both teams, especially for us, as we need to score two goals and keep a clean sheet to make the match level.
“It is a very hard job and it requires lots of energy. I hope our fans inject this energy into us so we can start the match very strongly from the beginning.”