April 13, 2024

Ghalenoei plays down Sepahan’s sluggish start

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ghalenoei-ac2007-1AFC – ESFAHAN, Sepahan boss Amir Ghalenoei claimed his side are yet to show anything like their true potential in this year’s AFC Champions League but believes the Iranians are still in good shape to reach the knockout stage.

Alexander Geynrikh’s second-half free-kick condemned Sepahan to a 2-1 defeat at Pakhtakor last week and they currently prop up Group C with two points ahead of the return clash with the Uzbeks at the Foolad Shahr on Wednesday.

And Ghalenoei wants his side to shrug off their lethargic start as the group stage approaches the second half.

“We haven’t got any good results at all. I’m the only one in charge of these poor results and wouldn’t like to blame anyone for the lacklustre performances we had in the first games of the ACL,” he said.

“The only thing we should do is to win the game. Unlike Al Shabab, who have skilful players, Pakhtakor are physically potent.

“We are only two points away from the second and the third teams in our group and that means we still have good qualifying chances.

“Given the fact that we have two home games in hand, we’re not disappointed and we’ll do our best to progress even as first in the group.”

Pakhtakor coach Miodrag Radulovic, meanwhile, has promised plenty of attacking intent from his side as the group leaders look to take a huge step towards the last 16.

“Sepahan is undoubtedly the best team of the group. We played an offensive game against them in Tashkent and that was why we could beat them,” he said.

“I don’t know how to instruct my players to play defensively, so I’ll send them onto the pitch just to attack.

“Currently we’re leading the group with six points and I am sure if we win the match, we will make sure we progress as the top team of the group.

“I was very satisfied with my team’s performance last week against Sepahan. We have for sure the best qualifying chances but after tomorrow’s clash, we will know which other team can qualify to the next round together with us.”

Radulovic did admit, however, that Pakhtakor were somewhat lucky to get the better of Sepahan last week.

“I should say we were fortunate to beat them because we had two injured players and couldn’t field them,” he added.

“But they are fully recovered and for this reason we’ll be even mightier than last week.”