Al-Nassr football club entrance celebrated by Iranian fans
TEHRAN — The entrance of the Saudi Al-Nassr football club was met with raucous celebrations by thousands of Iranian fans on Monday.
In the first encounter of the group round of the AFC Champions League, Al-Nassr will face off against Iranian hosts Persepolis on Tuesday.
Banners greeting Al-Nassr and their Portuguese captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, could be seen hanging from buildings all across the Iranian city.
Videos of Iranian supporters' reactions to seeing Ronaldo and the rest of the Al-Nassr stars went viral on social media.
Persepolis presented an excellent Persian carpet to the Al-Nassr team delegation for the arrival of Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo and Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mané.
Thousands of Iranians flocked to the airport area hours before the Al-Nassr team's scheduled arrival.
Fans of all ages in Iran wear Al-Nassr shirts with the numbers of Ronaldo, Mané, and other players to show their support for the club, which has garnered global notoriety in recent months thanks to huge international signings.
Thousands of fans flocked to the hotel where Al-Nassr was staying in order to get their pictures taken with the Saudi club's stars, most notably Ronaldo.
Images and videos showing Ronaldo waving to the fans from the window of the Al-Nassr bus as it left the airport for the hotel quickly went viral on social media.
On the "X" platform, the Iranian squad Persepolis wrote, "Welcome to Iran, Al-Nassr." Al-Nassr is from Saudi Arabia.
According to the rules of the AFC Champions League, each side can only have a maximum of five non-Asian players on their roster.
The coaching staff has final say over which foreign players to include on the roster. So, Al-Nassr's Portuguese coach, Luis Castro, will decide which international players will be on the roster right before the team's AFC Champions League encounter against Persepolis.
At Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyad, Al-Nassr defeated Shabab Ahli Dubai, of the United Arab Emirates, 4-2 in the Asian playoff.
After this victory, they will be joining Persepolis of Iran, Al-Duhail of Qatar, and Istiklol Dushanbe of Tajikistan in Group Five of the AFC Champions League.