Tasnim – ISFAHAN, Zob Ahan FC head coach Alireza Mansourian expects a tough challenge but is confident the Iranian side will overcome Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad in the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16.
Zob Ahan, who is in pre-season training, will face Al Ittihad on August 5 and 13 and Mansourian said his players are working hard to ensure they will be ready.
“We have been focusing on fitness and strength training. We are working very hard to be in perfect condition for the match against Al Ittihad,” said Mansourian.
The Round of 16 tie will be played in neutral venues with the first leg in Dubai.
“We do have a lot of friendly matches planned, and have six mini-camps in Isfahan. We have invited other teams to come to Isfahan. Our last mini-camp will be held in southern Iran, with weather similar to Dubai and Doha,” he added.
Their domestic campaign, however, ended with them sixth in the Iran Pro League and out of the 2020 AFC Champions League.
Mansourian admitted that Al Ittihad – who finished as Group B runners-up – will be a tough challenge but said he is confident of Zob Ahan’s chances.
“I know and have analyzed the Al Ittihad team, and have seen all the matches of last season (both in the Saudi Pro League and AFC Champions League).
“We will have almost a new team for the Round of 16 as many players from the previous Champions League season are no longer with us,” the ex-Esteghlal coach added.
“We will be competing in the AFC Champions League with a much younger team. The players lack experience but are fighters, and we have worked more on their mental and emotional preparation. Certainly we will not have an easy match but neither will Al lttihad,” he concluded.