Al Nassr will face Al Ahli Saudi FC in an all-Saudi Arabia tie while Persepolis FC of Iran and Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan will square off in the 2020 AFC Champions League (West) quarter-finals following the draw in Doha yesterday.
Both the quarter-finals will be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium tomorrow, with Saturday’s semi-final also to be played at the same venue. The two quarter-finals and semi-final will be one-legged affairs.
Abderrazak Hamdallah’s sixth goal of the campaign saw Group D winners Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia edge domestic rivals Al Taawoun 1-0 in their Round of 16 tie on Sunday.
“It will be a difficult game; we know that because we played against Al Ahli in the Saudi Pro League and we know their qualities,” said Al Nassr head coach Rui Vitoria. “We are ready for the game. Both teams want to win, and I think it will be a very interesting game. We look forward to this type of games.
“Al Ahli may have played extra time in the Round of 16, but they had one extra day of rest compared to us, and one day more in this type of competition will be very important, but we are ready and we have players who want to play and are prepared for the game.”
Al Ahli Saudi, who finished top of Group A, advanced to the quarter-finals after defeating UAE’s Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 4-3 on penalties, with the Round of 16 match having ended 1-1 after extra-time on Saturday.
“I did not have a preference prior to the draw as all teams are very strong, but it is interesting because we face a fellow Saudi club,” said Al Ahli Saudi head coach Vladan Milojevic. “Al Nassr are a good team. A good club that of course we respect, but we are not afraid.
“We came here to give our all, so we will fight, play and we will see what happens. My philosophy is to prepare for any opponent in the same way. We treat this game the same way we would any other.
“The Round of 16 is behind us now, and we focus on Al Nassr. I have to concentrate on the state of my players because we had a lot of injuries, but I believe in my team and club. I always want to enjoy the game first.”
Persepolis — who finished top of Group C — sealed their quarter-final berth in dramatic fashion on Sunday with Isa al-Kasir scoring an 88th minute winner for the Iran Pro League champions against Qatar’s Al Sadd SC in their last 16 tie.
“Coming to the draw ceremony we knew it wasn’t going to make a big difference for us, because here there are four strong teams,” said Persepolis team manager Mohamed Ali Peyrovani. “Our target is to be champions of Asia, so if we want to be champions, we cannot worry about which team we will face next.
“Pakhtakor have been a really good team, so we know we will have a tough game against them, but on the other hand it will be a tough game for them. This is football, but we are confident that we will take to the pitch with only the aim of winning the match.”
Pakhtakor, in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009, defeated Iran’s Esteghlal FC 2-1, with the Uzbekistan side having advanced to the Round of 16 as Group B winners.
“All three teams would have been difficult opponents,” said Pakhtakor assistant coach Pieter Huistra. “Persepolis are a great team and we know them quite well because we faced them last year in the group stage and they are champions of Iran, so we have to be ready and have to be in good shape but we are confident. We played some good games already here and we are looking forward to Wednesday to play again.
“They had four clean sheets and we had three clean sheets, so I think we are similar teams. Everything is possible in this game. We believe in ourselves and we will be ready for this game. We played two teams from IR Iran already in this competition, so we are getting used to it. Iranian teams are always strong, we know that. It will be an exciting and strong game.”
None of the four West Zone quarter-finalists have won the AFC Champions League before, with Al Ahli Saudi and Persepolis finishing runners-up in 2012 and 2018 respectively. Al Ahli Saudi were also runners-up in the 1985-86 season of the Asian Club Championship.
Pakhtakor were semi-finalists in 2003 and 2004 while Al Nassr, runners-up in the 1995 Asian Club Championship, will be appearing in their second successive AFC Champions League quarter-finals.
September 30 (Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium)
4:40pm: Al Nassr (KSA) vs Al Ahli Saudi FC (KSA)
8:45pm: Persepolis FC (IRN) vs Pakhtakor (UZB)
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