A nine-year wait for the Persian Gulf Pro League glory could come to an end for Esteghlal supporters if all results go in their favor in Saturday’s fixtures.
Esteghlal, holding a six-point lead over nearest rival Persepolis, will play away to Foolad Khuzestan, fourth in the table, in Ahvaz’s Foolad Arena, hours before its archrival squares off against third-placed Sepahan in the neutral venue of Shahid Soleimani in Sirjan.
Should a victory for the Tehran-based Blues, remarkably unbeaten this season, be followed by a third defeat of the campaign for Persepolis, it will bring the Reds’ five-year dominance over the Iranian league to an end with three games to spare, as the League Organization of the Iranian Football Federation confirmed on Thursday that the champion will be decided by the head-to-head result between the top two if they finish the season level on points.
Esteghlal and Persepolis played to a goalless stalemate at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium – a game in which Esteghlal was designated as the host – earlier in the season, before sharing the points in a 1-1 draw in March’s reverse fixture.
Elsewhere, Naft Masjed Soleyman, third from bottom, will host newly-crowned Hazfi Cup champion Nassaji Mazandaran.
Bottom club Shahr Khodro will face Paykan at home, with Fajr Sepasi also struggling for survival, visiting Havadar in Tehran.
Aluminium Arak and San’at Naft Abadan go head-to-head in Arak, while Zob Ahan welcomes Tractor in Isfahan.
Mes Rafsanjan and Gol Gohar Sirjan, fifth and sixth in the standing, meet in Rafsanjan.