0942 GMT February 19, 2018
Iran’s Zob Ahan will kick off its Group B campaign with an away clash against Al Duhail of Qatar at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on Monday, the-afc.com reported.
Zob Ahan is competing in its sixth AFC Champions League and no Iranian club has come closer to winning the competition, after the Isfahan-based team finished as runner-up back in 2010.
The Iranians last trip to Qatar, meanwhile, yielded an impressive 1-0 away victory over Lekhwiya thanks to Mahdi Rajabzadeh’s solitary strike. The attacking midfielder, along with many of the other players that were on display that night, is likely to take to the pitch once more on Monday.
It will be a debut on the continent as Al Duhail, with the club having formed following the merger of Lekhwiya and El Jaish. The former twice reached the quarterfinals on the continent – in 2013 and 2015 – while the latter enjoyed a run to the semifinals in 2016.
Meanwhile, Tractorsazi Tabriz of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli will open their Group A accounts at Al Seeb Stadium on Monday as the sides get set to meet for just the third time.
Tractorsazi reached the last 16 on its most recent appearance in the tournament two years ago, while a year earlier the Tabriz-based drew one and lost one against Monday’s opponent as Al Ahli topped the group and the Iranian team was eliminated.
Al Ahli enjoyed a strong campaign last season with Syrian striker Omar al-Somah among the goals as the Saudi side reached the quarterfinals before going down to Iranian opposition in the form of Persepolis.
A runner-up finish in 2012 remains its best run on the continent and the Jeddah-based outfit will start the current campaign regarded as one of the strongest teams in West Asia.