Arabnews - Manouchehr Nikfar, chief of the Iranian club, confirms there will be no provocative messages during the AFC Champions League clash on Thursday.
The CEO of Sepahan has confirmed that the Iranian club has removed a statue of the late political figure Qassem Soleimani located in the Nagsh-e Jahan Stadium ahead of the match against Saudi’s Al-Hilal in the first leg of the AFC Champions League Round of 16, Arriyadiyah has reported.
The statue, and other politically charged banners, had caused the group stage match between Sepahan and another Saudi club, Al-Ittihad, to be abandoned on Oct. 2. The Jeddah club were eventually awarded a default 3-0 win.
Manouchehr Nikfar, speaking exclusively to the Arabic language sports daily, said: “The crisis regarding the stadium has been resolved. What the AFC requested was implemented, to remove the statue that caused the crisis, and in fact we were granted permission to officially hold the match at Nagsh-e Jahan.”
Nikfar highlighted the size of the task facing Sepahan.
“The anticipated confrontation will be very difficult,” he said. “We will face one of the greatest clubs in Asia, and we know very well its strength. Even in the absence of Neymar, they have not been affected at all. But we also have a good team, and we aspire to go as far as possible in the tournament, driven by our great ambition.”
The second leg of the tie between Al-Hilal and Sepahan will be played on Feb. 22 at Prince Faisal bin Fahd City Stadium in Riyadh, according to the AFC website.