(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The Boss have a chance to go at the top of the table in Group D of the AFC Champions League when they meet hosts Esteghlal on Monday at the Azadi Stadium.
The Iranian giants are the only team to post a win in the four-team group so far but Al Ain are also unbeaten after three draws.
Al Ain's Croatian coach Zoran Mamic is confident that his boys will achieve a positive result. "We are determined to give the best performance and clinch a positive result and our players are ready to play against more than 80,000 fans," he said in a reference to expected partisan crowd in the Iranian capital.
"The Boss'" response to Esteghlal will be in tomorrow's (Monday) match and the Al Ain players have got the strong desire, a fighting spirit and perfect experience to face all possible circumstances," key Al Ain player Omar Abdul Rehman was quoted in a tweet on the club's official handle.
The UAE team will miss the services of their Brazilian star, Caio Lucas. "The team will be missing Lucas as he is suffering from a slight muscle strain he suffered during the first leg match. The head coach's decision was to give him a break accordingly," revealed Mattar Al Sahbani, Al Ain team manager, in a post on the club's website.
"Al Ain have not lost any of the three matches that the team played in previous rounds of the groups stage," Al Sahbani said about team's chances to win one of the two qualifying cards.
"The 'Boss' is required to fly back from Iran with the points of the match in hands, and we do understand that our mission against our opponent at Azadi Stadium will not be easy," he confessed but added that the team was keen to return with three points in their kitty. When the two clashed in the first leg in Al Ain, Esteghlal twice led through Mame Thiam but Marcus Berg and a late penalty from Ahmed Kahlil ensured the honours were even.
In their previous visit to the Azadi Stadium, Al Ain suffered a solitary goal defeat but had come back strong to win the second leg 6-1.
Mohamed Abdulrahman is available after suspension for Al Ain.
Another team from the capital, Al Wahda will almost certainly be eliminated from the AFC Champions League should they fail to beat Zobahan in Group B at Zayed Sports City Stadium on Monday.
The Emirati side have lost their opening three matches on the continent, going down to Lokomitv and Al Duhail before suffering a 2-0 reversal to Zobahan after a Morteza Tabrizi double.
Elimination will be all but confirmed if they do not defeat Zobahan in the return fixture on home soil, but the Iranian side will go into the clash with confidence after winning back-to-back games to move into second place in the standings. After losing their opening game to table-toppers Al Duhail, Zobahan are now three points clear in second place and a third win on the bounce would put them in a strong position.
| Esteghlal fans urged to behave |
In an official statement published by the widespread Iranian newspaper Iran-Varzeshi (Iran sport), the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) warned the fans of Esteghlal from committing any 'hooligan acts' from the stands prior, during and after their team's match against Al Ain. The FFIRI issued this statement following a stern warning issued by the AFC with regards to committing any hooliganism acts that might take place on the side-lines of the match. If such acts take place, the AFC will impose penalties against FFIRI including depriving FFIRI from participating in official competitions for two seasons.
Esteghlal Tehran reacted to this statement and warning by also gave notice to all its fans published in all Iranian newspapers warning them for the consequences of misbehaving with members of Al Ain FC upon their arrival, during after the end of the match and while leaving the Azadi Stadium for the extreme levels of monitoring imposed by the AFC during the match. In its statement, Esteghlal Tehran FC stated that the prime challenge for everyone in the stands of the stadium would be to be self-restraint and to play their role in supporting and cheering their team faultlessly during the match.
Noteworthy, The AFC has recently assigned a security official to monitor the match and deliver a security report hand in hand with Match Commissioner.
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