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Preview - Group C: Al Hilal SFC (KSA) v Esteghlal FC (IRN)

Abu Dhabi:  Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal can seal qualification to the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 with a win over Islamic Republic of Iran’s Esteghlal at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.

Two-time runners-up Al Hilal have reached the knockout stages nine times in the past 10 years, but they were eliminated in the group stage last year.

Coach Zoran Mamic’s men fell to a 2-1 defeat to Esteghlal in Doha two weeks ago, after starting their Continental campaign with back-to-back victories over Al Ain and Al Duhail. Meanwhile, Esteghlal’s win came after an opening day 3-0 reversal at Al Duhail and a 1-1 draw with Al Ain.

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Al Hilal’s chances will be boosted by the return of star midfielder Abdullah Otayf after a two-month injury layout.

Domestically, Esteghlal have won their last two mathches to climb up to second in the Iranian Pro League table, five points behind arch-rivals Persepolis. Al Hilal similarly find themselves second in the Saudi Pro League, although just a point behind their own city rivals Al Nassr.

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