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Sepahan 'highly motivated' for ACL Round of 16 clash with fellow Iranians Esteghlal

Sepahan 'highly motivated' for ACL Round of 16 clash with fellow Iranians Esteghlal

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The Iranian champions are hoping victory in Tuesday's clash will pave the way to continental glory, while the Tehran giants are focusing on maintaining concentration

Sepahan coach Zlatko Kranjcar admits Tuesday's AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash with compatriots Esteghlal is a "big match" for both sides and says victory will pave the way for his side to go for continental glory.

Kranjcar's side, who were crowned Iranian champions 11 days ago, play host to the Tehran giants in Tuesday's knockout clash, with the whole country captivated by the all-Iranian affair.

The Croatian coach said his side was "highly motivated" for the match as they seek to become Asian champions.

"We are highly motivated to defeat Esteghlal and qualify to the next round. We want to be the champions of Asia like champions of Iran,” Kranjcar told reporters.

“Sepahan’s condition is inspired and promising at the moment. We want to be golden like the colour of our jersey. We became champions in Iran's Pro League because we were the better side than other teams.”

He added: "This is a big match for both teams... We want the victory over Esteghlal to pave our way for the AFC Champions League title.”

Meanwhile, Esteghlal boss Parviz Mazloumi said concentration would be of the utmost importance in Tuesday's game.

“The side which has better concentration in the game will qualify to the next stage,” Mazloomi said. “The motivation of both sides is at the level which can make them to succeed even in winning the AFC Champions League title.

"Unfortunately, one of the Iranian sides will be eliminated, and this is the only option. We know of Sepahan very well and we are here in Esfahan to win. Sepahan are a strong team which became the champions of Iran a while ago.”

Sepahan will be without left-back Hassan Ashjari due to injury, while Hassan Jafari will face a fitness test.

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