Iran’s Esteghlal and Zob Ahan are back in the AFC Champions League action on Monday when they take on Emirati opponents on Matchday Four of the competition.
Esteghlal, the only undefeated Iranian side in the competition, gets the chance to play in front of its home crowd at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in Group D when the group-leader hosts Al Ain.
The Blues are the only team to have won a game in the group, having defeated Al Hilal 1-0 on Matchday Two, and go into Monday’s home fixture following a commendable 2-2 draw against the Emirati side last Tuesday.
Esteghlal twice led through Mame Thiam in the UAE but Marcus Berg and a late controversial decision by the referee which led to a penalty by Ahmed Kahlil ensured the tie ended level after an entertaining second half in which all four goals were scored.
Al Ain has now drawn all three of its group games and sits third in the standings behind second-placed Al Rayyan only on goal difference.
Mohamed Abdulrahman is available after suspension for Al Ain, which suffered a 1-0 defeat on its previous visit to Azadi Stadium in the first knockout round last year, but eventually defeated Esteghlal 6-1 in the second leg to advance.
Meanwhile, Zob Ahan squares off against Al Wahda at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Sports City Stadium in a repeat of last Tuesday’s tie in Group B.
After losing their opener against table-topper Al Duhail, Amir Ghalenoei’s men defeated Lokomotiv on Matchday Two and then sealed a 2-0 victory over Monday’s opponent, thanks to a brace by in-form striker Morteza Tabrizi, leaving the Isfahan-based club second in the group, three points shy of the Qatari side.
A victory will put Zob Ahan in a strong position ahead of a home tie with Al Duhail and a tricky away fixture against Lokomotiv on the final day of the group stage.