Meet Persepolis FC, one of FC Goa’s opponents in the AFC Champions League

One of FC Goa’s opponents in Group E (West Region) of the AFC Champions League are Iranian giants Persepolis FC. Formed in 1963, the club have really come into their own in the last 25 years or so having lifted several top-flight trophies in Iran during this period. They will play the Gaurs on April 20 and April 23, and in light of their pedigree, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Juan Ferrando’s men have a tough task on their hands in those matches. Here is the lowdown on the Iranian club, some key players as well as their head coach.

Nickname: The Red Army

Home Stadium: Azadi Stadium

Overview:

Two-time AFC Champions League finalists, Persepolis FC ply their trade in the Persian Gulf Pro League. They have won a record 13 Iranian top-flight titles, including in last four seasons. They have reached the knock-out stage in three of last four editions of the AFC Champions League. Moreover, the Red Army reached the final in two of last three seasons of the prestigious competition, losing on both occasions though. In 2018, Persepolis FC lost 2-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final (2-0 in the away leg and 0-0 in the home leg) to Japan’s Kashima Antlers and in 2020, South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai condemned the Iranian club to a 2-1 loss as COVID-19 restrictions prevented a two-legged final.

Key Players:

Hamed Lak (Goalkeeper)

Hamed Lak joined Persepolis FC in September 2020 and went on to win the best performer award in the AFC Champions League based on votes from both fans and independent experts. He conceded just four goals during their run to the final and three of them were scored from penalties. He managed a total of five clean sheets in eight appearances for his side.

Vahid Amiri (Winger)

The experienced winger is in his second stint with the Iranian club. In all, Vahid Amiri has 96 appearances for Persepolis FC in the Persian Gulf Pro League as of now and has scored 17 goals and provided as many assists. He has also played 29 matches in the AFC Champions league, with two goals and four assists to his name. The 33-year-old has also featured in more than 50 games for the Iranian national team. Such a big body of work is likely to stand the Red Army in good stead in the upcoming competition.

Ahmad Nourollahi (Midfielder)

Ahmad Nourollahi is arguably one of their most creative players and a fan favourite at the club. Nourollahi has 145 appearances for the Iranian side in the Persian Gulf Pro League across two stints with the club. He also has three titles to his name. The ongoing season is the 28-year-old midfielder's best in terms of goal contributions, with six goals and two assists in 19 league games for the Red Army. He also has 39 AFC Champions League appearances under his belt.

Head Coach: Yahya Golmohammadi

Yahya Golmohammadi is a former Iranian international who spent a significant part of his playing career with Persepolis FC. He is in his second stint with the club having earlier coached them in the 2012-13 season. Thereafter he went on to coach Naft Tehran, Zob Ahan and Tractor, among many others. The 50-year-old head coach took charge of the Red Army again in January 2020 and led them to the title as well as the AFC Champions League final. And there is no doubt, this AFC Champions League season he will be looking to go one better.

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