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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Asian Champions League: There is big pressure on Persepolis, says Henk ten Cate as Al Jazira prepare for last-16 clash

  • A crowd of 100,000 expected at Azizi Stadium in Tehran
  • Jazira hold slender 3-2 lead from first leg
  • Ten Cate: playing in front of so many fans 'will bring out the best of our players'
Henk ten Cate took over as Al Jazira manager at a time when the club went through a low. Al Jazira
Henk ten Cate took over as Al Jazira manager at a time when the club went through a low. Al Jazira

Henk ten Cate, the Al Jazira manager, says the pressure is on opponents Persepolis when they meet in the second leg of their Asian Champions League last-16 tie.

Jazira head to the Azadi Stadium in Tehran on Monday where a crowd of 100,000 are expected to will the Iranian side on in a must-win game for Persepolis to book their place in the quarter finals.

Jazira hold a slender 3-2 lead following Khalifa Mubarak Al Hammadi's winner six minutes into added time in last week's first leg in Abu Dhabi.

“A draw for us is enough,” Ten Cate said. “But there is big pressure on Persepolis. They will have lots of people in the stadium supporting them and the expectations will be very high. That will add more pressure on their players.

“We don’t have that. We are a small club from a small country. We have come here to your beautiful city. It’s the first time I’m here."

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The Dutchman, who last season led Jazira to only a second Arabian Gulf League title, believes playing in front of so many fans "will bring out the best of our players".

"We are going to enjoy tomorrow with a game of good football. We are looking forward to it and will try to make the people in Abu Dhabi happy."

“Our players will also enjoy playing in front of big crowds. I think any player for that matter will enjoy playing in front of big crowds. In fact, it will bring out the best of our players.”

In contrast Ten Cate's opposite number Branko Ivankovic says the huge number of Persepolis fans expected for the game would be a boon for his team.

“We expect our fans to get behind us and that’s a huge advantage,” he said. “It’s an important game for both teams.

“Jazira are not a better team than Persepolis but they go into this game with an advantage after winning the first leg. There is still 90 minutes and we’ll try to turn that result around.”

Jazira have qualified for the Asia's premier club competition on 10 occasions but this is only the third time they have reached the last 16 stage and they have never progressed beyond it.

“It’s going to be a very interesting game,” Ten Cate said.“We have to defend a 3-2 win and that’s exactly what we want to do. I know what we can expect here. I have seen this team play more than once. We played them once and saw two-three different games on TV.

“I know their strength and I also know their weakness. This is what we showed last week.

“In matches, it takes 90-plus minutes, so it doesn’t matter when you score. You can score in the first minute or last minute, as long as you score within the time, this is what we did.

“Football is a game with less mistakes. The team that makes less mistakes win the game. I hope we make less mistakes tomorrow.”