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Persepolis wary of their former star Rezaeian as they face Al Duhail

Persepolis wary of their former star Rezaeian as they face Al Duhail

AFC
Doha
Persepolis FC midfielder Kamal Kamyabinia lauded the qualities of former teammate and current Al Duhail winger Ramin Rezaeian ahead of the two sides’ Group C meeting in the 2020 AFC Champions League at the Education City Stadium on Monday.
A win for the Tehran-based side would mean a guaranteed place in the knock-out stage for the third time in four years, while Al Duhail can overtake their opponents into the top spot should they beat them and Al Taawoun fail to defeat Sharjah in the other Monday fixture.
Rezaeian represented Persepolis for two years between 2015 and 2017, contributing to their run to the 2017 AFC Champions League semi-final. He and Kamyabinia lined-up side-by-side in Persepolis’ midfield as they defeated Al Duhail (then Lekhwiya) 1-0 on aggregate in the Round of 16.
“I believe it is a really tough group with all four teams competing for a place in the Round of 16,” said Kamyabinia.
“Al Duhail are a strong team who are capable of going far in this competition. They lost some star names in the summer, but still brought good new players. But we are also a good team and are confident of going through.
“Ramin (Rezaeian) is a really good player and has made great progress since his time with us here. He was at Al Shahania last season and did so well to earn a move to Al Duhail. He is in form at the moment, and we wish him well, just not so well against us on Monday.”
And while Persepolis will be aware of the threat of Rezaeian who scored a sublime free-kick on his continental debut for Al Duhail against Sharjah io Matchday Three, they will be slightly relieved about the absence of suspended centre-back Medhi Benatia from their opponents’ ranks.
“We know this is a strong team which has just won the last two games in the group stage,” said Al Duhail head coach Walid Regragui, who like Benatia, is a former Moroccan international defender.
“We are still unsure whether Karim Boudiaf and Edmilson will be available for selection, they are still recovering. We know with them playing we are stronger because they are really good players, but we played without them from the start just like we played without Asim Madibo and Bassam Al Rawi. It is a difficult
competition and everyone has to contribute.”
“We are happy because we feel Dudu is improving. He did not play for six months, so he needed match time to find his rhythm. Almoez Ali scored twice so he is more confident now. Afif and Ramin as wingers are doing so well but I also hope adding Junior Edmilson we can add more technical skills into our game.
“In this competition you need to be strong in defence, and we conceded five in the past two games, so for me that is an area of improvement,” said Redragui.
The two sides met on Matchday One with Al Duhail emerging 2-0 winners. Mario Mandzukic, who has since left the club, opened the scoring and the now injured Edmilson added Al Duhail’s second.
The 2020 AFC Champions League is being hosted across four air-conditioned venues, including three that are set to host FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 matches; Al Janoub Stadium, Khalifa International Stadium and Education City Stadium, in addition to Al Sadd’s Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.

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