Al Sadd ready for semifinal battle
Doha: The 2011 winners Al Sadd of Qatar host 2017 semi-finalists Persepolis of Islamic Republic of Iran on Tuesday, before Japan’s Kashima Antlers welcome two-time continental champions Suwon Samsung Bluewings of Korea Republic a day later.
Al Sadd are the only side left in the competition to have won the AFC Champions League, while they were also the last team from West Asia to lift the coveted trophy when they defeated Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the 2011 final.
The Doha team have overcome Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli and Iran’s Esteghlal in the knockout rounds and have not lost since the group stage as they aim to repeat the feat of seven years ago and end East Asian dominance.
But their last defeat was to Tuesday’s opponents when Persepolis secured a 1-0 win in Tehran to top Group C, before the Iranian side knocked out Al Jazira in the last 16 and claimed a remarkable come-from-behind victory over another Qatari team, Al Duhail, in the quarter-finals.
Persepolis are appearing in their second successive semi-final after advancing for the first time last year, before eventually losing to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal. They will return full of belief after ousting a side who had previously won all nine of their matches on the continent.