Wednesday 07 November 2018, 15:08

Bashar Resan facing his toughest challenge

  • Bashar Resan lost his mother last month while on international duty for Iraq

  • Midfielder hoping Perspolis can overturn 2-0 deficit in AFC Champions League final

  • Iranian club face Kashima Antlers at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on Saturday, 16:00 CET

Although Persepolis midfielder Bashar Resan Bonyan is busy preparing for the second-leg of his club's AFC Champions League final against Japan's Kashima Antler this Saturday, the 21-year old Iraqi player is also dealing with a personal challenge even more difficult than that of the Japanese giant.

On 11 October, Bashar lined up for Iraq in an international friendly against Argentina without knowing that his mother had died earlier that same day. Bashar's father informed the Iraqi team manager but asked them not to pass it on to his son until after the game.

The tragic news later came as a great shock for the young midfielder, who was extremely attached to his mother. He had to leave the Iraqi team's camp in Saudi Arabia for the funeral before returning a week later to his club for the second-leg of their AFC Champions League semi-final against Qatar's Al Sadd.

"I'll never forget that day," Bashar told, the emotion still so raw that he could barely gets the words out. "It was very difficult for me to lose my mother at this young age. She was a mother and a friend. The other players knew my mother had died but kept it to themselves so I could finish the game against Argentina."

He added: "After seven exhausting days during which my family and I grieved and accepted condolences, I returned to Iran. I attended one or two training sessions before the game against Al Sadd. I had mixed feelings of joy and grief after we qualified for the final, especially since my mother was always the first to contact me after every game."

Overwhelmed by feelings of sorrow, Bashar went on: "That was the first game I played after her death. At the final whistle, I realised I wouldn’t be able to talk to her. I was in a terrible situation and couldn't contain my emotions."

Bashar Resan paying tribute to his mother

Crucial game

Bashar will need to set aside his grief on Saturday at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium if he is to help Persepolis overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit and deny the Japanese the Asian title.

Bashar, for his part, remains optimistic. The player, who started his football career with Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in 2010, insisted the 11-time Iranian champions can reverse the situation on home soil and become Asian champions for the first time.

"It's going to be a historic game for Persepolis and for me personally, especially after winning the AFC Cup [with Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in 2016]. Reaching the final, in itself, was an achievement. Kashima Antlers are a good team, but we’ve already managed to beat more powerful teams like Al-Duhail [3-2] and Al Sadd [2-1]."

He added: "We didn't play as well as we should have in the first game, especially in the second half. If we perform to our usual standards in the second leg, we can make history by winning the title and participating in the Club World Cup next month."

If he wins with Persepolis, Bashar Rasan will indeed make history in a year he will certainly never forget.

Did you know?

  • Bashar comes from a footballing family. His father Resan Bonyan played as defender with the Iraqi national team and a number of Iraqi clubs, while his four brothers competed at underage level and for lesser-known Iraqi teams.

  • His Persepolis team-mates showed their support for the player by wearing jerseys with a picture of him and his mother before their game against Navad Urmia in the Iranian Cup on 18 October.

  • If he features at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018, Bashar will be the third Iraqi, after Abdul-Wahab Abu Al Hail and Imad Mohammed, to feature at this global tournament. Asked about the prospect, Bashar said: "Everyone at our club hopes to participate at the Club World Cup. I personally hope to make history and represent Iraq there."