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Persepolis' captain Hosseini determined to make up for 2018 AFC Champions League heartbreak

Doha: Persepolis FC captain Seyyed Jalal Hosseini is determined to bury the bitterness of the 2018 final when his side take on Ulsan Hyundai FC in the 2020 AFC Champions League decider at Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday.

Having lost the 2017 AFC Champions League semi-final 6-2 on aggregate to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC, Persepolis went one better the following year by making the final - only to come up short against Kashima Antlers, who followed up a 2-0 win in Japan with a stalemate at Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

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After a disappointing group stage elimination in 2019, Persepolis are back to their best and within one match of becoming the first Iranian team to win the AFC Champions League, and 38-year-old Hosseini believes he and his teammates are prepared for glory.

Interview: Persepolis captain Seyyed Jalal Hosseini

“We put in a lot of effort and overcame plenty of difficulties,” said the former IR Iran international centre-back, who joined Persepolis in 2016.

“But here we are in a position we deserve to be, which is the final of the 2020 AFC Champions League. After the end of the West matches, we continued to compete in the league and played some good matches, but unfortunately, we were not able to contest our last two league games, but we had good training sessions and prepared well."

#ACL2020 Road to Final: Persepolis FC (IRN)

Hosseini played all 180 minutes over the two legs in the 2018 final, but with age taking its toll, he was limited to three starts in the 2020 edition. The departure of fellow centre-back Shojae Khalilzadeh for Al Rayyan last month could well mean Hosseini is in line for a starting spot against Ulsan Hyundai on Saturday.

Out of 14 players who played a part in the double header against Kashima Antlers, only six remain at the club, and as one of them, the club captain sees many differences two years later.

2018 Final - 2nd Leg: Persepolis v Kashima Antlers

“Conditions differ between matches; the conditions we had in the 2018 final are different to the conditions here in the 2020 final.

"We have many different players and also, we are playing a single leg at a neutral ground instead of home and away."

“This makes the game difficult for both teams because you cannot afford to make mistakes and have to be focused throughout.

"In 2018, we were not able to become champions of Asia, but we are here to compensate and are fully motivated.”

*Poll ends at 19:00 (UTC+8) on December 19.

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