TEHRAN, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Persepolis soccer team head coach Branko Ivankovic said Monday that Al Sadd are even stronger than current AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar, Tehran Times daily reported.
Persepolis will meet the Qatari giants in Group D of the AFC Champions League at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday.
Al Sadd will be desperate to avenge last year's semifinal defeat to Persepolis.
"First, I would like to congratulate the Qataris for winning the Asian Cup title. And, I think Al Sadd are even stronger than Qatar since the team take full advantage of super midfielders like Xavi Hernandez, Gabi Fernandez and the Qatari international players as well," Ivankovic said in the pre-match news conference.
"Persepolis also are a strong team and I am proud of my players. We are determined to show our best form against Al Sadd. We want to show an acceptable performance against our opponents," the Persepolis coach added.
"Persepolis are drawn in a difficult group as we were held by Uzbekistan's Pakhtakor at our home last week. Also, Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia defeated Al Sadd 2-0. Persepolis and Al Sadd, as the last year's finalists of West Asia, failed to win their first matches and it shows how difficult our group is," Ivankovic noted.
"Persepolis are a big team in Asia and we are supported by tens of millions of fans. Al Sadd also are a great team with a great coach. I watched the match between Al Sadd and Al Ahli and I have to say the Qataris were the better team despite suffering an away defeat," Ivankovic concluded.