Persian Gulf Pro League club Foolad Khuzestan will be chasing a second successive victory over Ahal FC of Turkmenistan in the AFC Champions League on Monday with Sepahan eyeing an all-important win against Saudi side Al Taawoun.
Moussa Coulibaly’s 97th-minute header saw Foolad beat Ahal 1-0 in the reverse fixture in on Thursday to sit second in the Group C table – equal on five points with Qatari outfit Al Gharafa, which played to a 1-1 draw against Emirati club Shabab Al Ahli to go top of the group.
With only the 10 group winners secured a place in the last-16 round, Moharam Navidkia’s Sepahan will settle for nothing less than a victory against the Saudi host.
The Isfahan-based club had to play with 10 men for the better part of the game after center-back Ezzatollah Pourqaz was shown a straight red inside 10 minutes, as Al Taawoun walked away with a 3-0 victory on Thursday, courtesy of goals by Nawaf al-Subhi, Cape Verdean Zé Luís, and Yazeed al-Bakr.
Al Taawoun leads the Group D standing with six points, holding a head-to-head superiority over second-placed Qatari giant Al Duhail, which beat Pakhtakor 3-2 earlier on Thursday.
Sepahan trials the top two by three points, with Pakhtakor sitting bottom of the table also on three points.
Three best runners-up from each region – West and East – will join the group winners in the round of 16.