AFC – KUALA LUMPUR, Can Hadadifar inspire Zobahan?
Back in 2010 Zobahan produced their best-ever run in the AFC Champions League when they reached the final before defeat to Korea Republic’s Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, having earlier eliminated Monday’s opponents Al Ittihad in the group stage.
Captaining the side in that final was the long-serving midfielder Ghasem Hadadifar, who, still going strong at 36, opened the scoring in last week’s first leg with a sumptuous curling free-kick before Al Ittihad came back to deal the Iranian side a first defeat of the campaign.
Trailing 2-1 going into the return meeting in Doha, there remains all to play for, particularly as Hadadifar’s strike in Dubai counts as an away goal – despite the game being played on neutral ground.
No team in the West has kept more clean sheets than Zobahan’s three, meanwhile, and if they could make that four, another little bit of magic from their Isfahan-born skipper could help them reach a first quarter-final since 2011.