(IranSportsPress.com | the-afc)- Zobahan retained the Hazfi Cup with a penalty shootout victory over Esteghlal after a 1-1 draw in May’s final to ensure a return to the AFC Champions League for a second successive year. In 2016, the Isfahan club won four and drew two of their six Group Stage games to advance to the knockout phase ahead of Lekhwiya, Al Nassr and Bunyodkor. The Iranian side exited in the Round of 16, though, as eventual runners-up Al Ain ran out 3-1 aggregate winners. Zobahan’s best ever performance came in 2010 when they finished runners-up to Korea Republic’s Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, while they also reached the quarter-finals a year later.
Now in his fourth year with the club, forward Morteza Tabrizi has established himself as an integral part of the Zobahan side, finishing as their top scorer in the 2015/16 domestic season. Mehdi Rajabzadeh, who boasts more than 250 appearances over three spells with the club, continues to supply goals and the 38-year-old captain netted twice in last season’s AFC Champions League. Goalkeeper Mohammad Rashid Mazaheri kept five clean sheets in the 2016 Group Stage as Zobahan stormed into the Round of 16. The talented custodian made his national team debut last year.
Coach: Mojtaba Hosseini
After spending the majority of his playing days with Zobahan, Mojtaba Hosseini returned as assistant coach in 2014 following more than a decade away. Hosseini assumed the head coach role in October last year and will now aim to successfully navigate a path to the Round of 16 for the second year in a row.
How They Qualified: Hazfi Cup Winner
Stadium: Foolad Shahr Stadium, Isfahan (capacity 15,000)
Persian Gulf Pro League: Runner-up 2010, 2009, 2005
Hazfi Cup (4): 2016, 2015, 2009, 2003
AFC Champions League: Runner-up 2010; Round of 16 2016; Quarter-Finals 2011; Group Stage 2004