Esteghlal’s skipper Seyyed Mehdi Rahmati (top) holds aloft the Iran’s Hazfi Cup trophy while his teammates and club officials celebrate the title at Khorramshahr Stadium in Khuzestan, southern Iran, on May 3, 2018.
Esteghlal’s domestic campaign came to a glittering end as the Tehran giant club won Iran’s Hazfi Cup on a record seventh occasion, courtesy of a narrow 1-0 win over Iranian second-tier team Khooneh Be Khooneh on Thursday.
Senegalese forward Mame Thiam’s cool touch in the six-yard box on Khosro Heidari’s cross ten minutes before the interval proved to be enough to beat the Babol-based club in an exciting final at Khorramshahr Stadium in southern Iran.
The cup triumph gave Winfried Schäfer – who agreed a two-year extension to his current contract earlier on Thursday – his first trophy after eight months in charge of the Tehran Blues.
Having finished third in the Persian Gulf Pro League, Esteghlal had already been secured a place in the 2019 AFC Champions League, however, Blues’ victory in Thursday’s final meant that Ali Daei’s Saipa – which finished fourth in the league – is now handed a qualification-playoff spot in next year’s competition.
Esteghlal’s impressive run in pursuit of a third continental club trophy will continue as Schäfer’s men – having finished unbeaten as Group D winner – square off against the Isfahan-based side Zob Ahan is an all-Iranian last-16 tie at the 2018 edition of the AFC Champions League.
The two teams will go head to head in Isfahan’s Foolad Shahr Stadium on May 8 before meeting at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium for the second leg a week later.