January 24 – Having negotiated Oman in the last 16 round, Iran go into their quarter final with China as clear favourites.
Head coach Carlos Queiroz’s team has really only been tested fully against Iraq in the group stages when they had already qualified for the next round. The Iraq match was a feisty and temperamental affair that ended 0-0.
Queiroz will be glad to be back to facing opponents where football rather than emotion should be the deciding factor.
Iran have never won the Asian Cup but they are the highest ranked AFC nation. Their last Asian Cup campaign ended at the quarter final stage when they dramatically lost on penalties to Iraq four years ago in Australia.
“No two games in football are ever the same, in football it is always a different story,” said Queiroz.
“The game versus China is a new game, a new adventure, and one in which we can try to do our absolute best. However, what is key is to remember all the lessons we have learned – both when we have won and when we have lost – and put them to good use.
“This is just like a cup final as they are games which do not have a history, they do not have a past. You cannot lose a game because of history or statistics. This type of cup final match is very different to those we faced in the group stage and I believe the experience my players have will count for something in the game.”
China have so far looked a team struggling to fit into a predominantly European style being imposed on them by coach Marcelo Lippi. His tenure as head coach is not expected to last beyond this tournament and unless he brings more cohesion to the Chinese game plan, it will not likely last beyond the end of this game.
China were well beaten by South Korea in their final group game though rested a number of senior players. Against Thailand they scraped through 2-1.
They will need to find a lot more from a team that clearly has individual talent if they are going to trouble Iran and Queiroz.
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