News ID: 314204
Published: 1140 GMT June 25, 2021

Esteghlal, Tractor to face Saudi sides in neutral venues: Report

Esteghlal, Tractor to face Saudi sides in neutral venues: Report

Sports Desk

Persian Gulf Pro League clubs Esteghlal and Tractor will have to play their AFC Champions League (ACL) knockout ties against Saudi clubs in neutral venues, according to Al Arabiya.

Esteghlal will play Al Hilal in the last-16 round of the competition in September, with Tractor taking on against Al Nassr.

Political tensions between the two Persian Gulf states had seen Iranian and Saudi clubs squaring off in a third country since 2016, before Esteghlal and Foolad Khuzestan flew to Saudi Arabia in April to play their centralized group fixtures of the Asian elite clubs competition in Jeddah and Riyadh respectively.

However, the Saudi-based news channel has been told by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) spokesman Nidal Bahran that “Esteghlal and Al Nassr have been given until July 7 by the AFC to name a neutral venue for their last-16 round ties against Al Hilal and Tractor.”

Esteghlal and Al Nassr had initially been picked as the hosts of the two single-legged ties in the knockout stage draw.

Also in the ACL knockouts, Esteghlal archrival Persepolis will face Istiklol of Tajikistan.

When asked if Iran and Saudi Arabia will also have to meet in a neutral venue, should they be drawn in the same group at the World Cup Asian qualifiers, Bahran said, “FIFA is the one to make the final decision on that issue.”

The draw for the final round of qualifiers will take place on July 1, where 12 teams will be split into two groups.



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