Yahya Golmohammadi and Farhad Majidi will be hoping to make an early mark as the newly-appointed managers of Persepolis and Esteghlal when the two Iranian giants square off in an eagerly-awaited Tehran derby in the Persian Gulf Pro League on Thursday.
Both coaches have been enjoying a perfect run of results since taking over in early January.
Golmohammadi – having replaced Argentine Gabriel Calderon – claimed two league victories with Reds over Tractor (2-0) and San’at Naft Abadan (1-0).
Meanwhile, Majidi – who took the reins after Italian Andrea Stramaccioni’s departure – led the Blues to an AFC Champions League group spot with consecutive wins over Kuwait SC (3-0) and Qatar’s Al Rayyan (5-0) before his team beat Naft Masjed Soleyman 2-1 at home in the league last Saturday.
Golmohammadi’s side – seeking an eighth successive victory – currently sits atop the league table with 40 points – holding a five-point lead over second-placed Sepahan – with Majidi’s men, having a game in hand, standing fourth with 32pts – trailing Tractor by one point.
Thursday’s game will be the battle of the league’s best backline and attacking force as Esteghlal has scored 35 in 17 matches – including a combined 17 by the league’s joint-top scorer Mehdi Qaedi (9) and Cheick Diabate (8) – while Persepolis has only let in seven goals, managing to keep a clean sheet on 12 occasions.
However, Persepolis will have to do without suspended first-choice center-back Shoja Khalilzadeh and Esteghlal will miss talismanic striker Diabate who was forced out injured against Naft Masjed Soleyman.
Last time these two met, Persepolis edged past its archrival 1-0 in the reverse fixture last September – courtesy of a late goal by substitute Mehdi Abdi.