0341 GMT October 25, 2021
Persian Gulf Pro League giants Esteghlal and Foolad Khuzestan will square off in Iran’s Hazfi Cup final at Isfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan Stadium on Sunday.
Farhad Majidi’s Esteghlal booked their place in the final showpiece by a 2-1 semifinal victory over Golgohar Sirjan on Wednesday, having beaten arch-rivals Persepolis in the shootout in the previous round.
Foolad, meanwhile, came out victorious by two goals against the second-tier side Malavan Bandar Anzali in the semis.
A place in next season’s AFC Champions League will be at stake for Foolad, after Javad Nekounam’s men failed to finish in the league’s top three.
Six-placed Foolad will be hoping to build on a decent season in the Sunday’s encounter, after going a whole league campaign undefeated at home.
Meanwhile, Esteghlal, who have already secured an ACL spot by finishing third in the league, will be after a first title in three years by lifting a record-extending eighth cup trophy, having won the competition in 2018.
Majidi, however, will be without first-choice keeper Seyyed Hossein Hosseini, who will miss the tie with suspension, as well as centre-back Mohammad Daneshgar, who also received a third yellow card in the competition against Golgohar.
Foolad won the first meeting between the two in the league 2-1 at home, courtesy of a 90th-minute spot kick by Luciano Pereira, while the Tehran-based won the reverse fixture 1-0, also by a late penalty converted by Amir-Arsalan Motahari, in what was Majidi’s first match in his third spell on Blues bench.