ISFAHAN — Al-Ittihad football team landed in the Iranian city of Isfahan on Saturday and were accorded a warm welcome from the supporters of their rival team, Sepahan.

Cheers erupted as Al-Ittihad players disembarked the bus on their way to their accommodation.

The two teams are set to face each other on Monday as part of the second round of group stage matches in the AFC Champions League.

Opting for strategic planning, Portuguese coach Nuno Santo decided to have the players arrive 48 hours before the match to acclimate to the city's atmosphere and finalize tactical plans for the game at the Naghsh -e- Jahan Stadium.

Upon arrival at the airport, the team was greeted with flowers. Anmar Al-Haili, the club's president, along with key players including Fabinho, N'Golo Kanté, Romarinho, Abdullah Al-Mayouf, Hassan Kadash, Omar Hawsawi, and Saleh Al-Omairi led the delegation.

Al-Ittihad commenced their group stage campaign in the AFC Champions League with a convincing 3-0 victory over Uzbek side AGMK in the first round at Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.

The team is eager for a strong start in the continental tournament, aiming to clinch a title that has been absent from the club's achievements for nearly 18 years.

In a challenging group featuring Sepahan, AGMK, and Iraq's Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, Al-Ittihad currently leads Group B with 3 points.

The resumption of matches between Saudi and Iranian clubs follows a decision by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in early September, allowing games between clubs and national teams of both countries to be played on a home-and-away basis.

This marked a departure from the previous policy that mandated matches to be held on neutral grounds.

The AFC expressed its satisfaction with this historic step, highlighting the commitment of the Saudi and Iranian football federations to strengthen relations within their football communities.

The move allows clubs to host matches at their home stadiums and visit the opposing team's stadium for away matches, enhancing the interaction and enjoyment for both fans and players.

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