AFC Champions League | Group B- Meet the teams: Esteghlal Khuzestan

( | the-afc)- Esteghlal Khouzestan will make their maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League after claiming the Iran Pro League title – by virtue of goal difference from Persepolis – for the first time in 2016. The side finished in the lower reaches of Iran’s top-flight in 2014 and 2015, surviving a relegation play-off in the latter, after winning promotion to the first division in 2013. But, after making a number of strong acquisitions in the off-season, Esteghlal Khouzestan caused a major upset in edging their domestic championship by the narrowest of margins.

Key Players
After signing from Foolad Novin in 2015, Hassan Beit Saeid went on to finish as the club’s top scorer in their victorious Iran Pro League campaign while also starting every league game. Much of the team’s title success was built around a solid defence with captain Mohammad Tayebi an almost ever-present during the title winning season. Cameroonian striker Aloys Nong, now in his fourth year in Iran, signed at the end of last year after netting twice for Tractorsazi Tabriz in the 2016 Group Stage.

Coach: Sirous Pourmousavi
Initially installed as Esteghlal Khouzestan’s B team coach in 2011, Sirous Pourmousavi was promoted to assistant coach a year later and helped guide the side to the elite division for the first time in 2013. Then, after the departure of Abdollah Veisi to Sepahan in May 2016, the club opted to promote from within and enlisted Pourmousavi as head coach prior to the 2016-17 campaign.

Esteghlal Khouzestan :
How They Qualified: Iran Pro League Winner
Founded: 2011
Stadium: Ghadir Stadium, Ahvaz (capacity 51,000)
Iran Pro League (1): 2016