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Football: Asian Cup, Group C – Iran’s confidence rises with third win

Iran battle against UAE for top spot in Group C. Photos:

Iran battle against UAE for top spot in Group C. Photos:

January 19, 2015: Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has said the Asian Cup Group C winners will head into the quarter-finals with a full squad ready to make a run at the title.


Queiroz tweaked his line-up for Iran’s 1-0 injury-time win over the UAE on Monday and came away satisfied with how the entire team stepped up to unseat Mahdi Ali’s side from the top spot. After making it a perfect three-from-three in the group phase, Iran could avoid defending champions and Group D leaders Japan at the first hurdle of the knockout stage on Friday.


“The changes reflected two yellow cards in the squad and one injury, as well as the chance to use some players with fresh legs, especially in the front line,” Queiroz said.


“Now we have a full squad ready to play, both tactically and mentally, as the young boys gained some experience and did very well. My plan was also to use some aces later on if it was necessary and the experience of the players that came on played a big role in the match.


“It was a good win against the UAE as in my opinion they are the best football team in West Asia. They have beautiful players, good combinations and have played together for a long time. It is difficult to play against them as they play like a club team.


“We showed good concentration and played with a fantastic attitude and were willing to sacrifice for the team. We played a passing game and were better than UAE in terms of penetration and movement. It was a great football game; very emotional and skilful.”


Reza Ghoochannejhad celebrates after scoring Iran’s late winner.

Reza Ghoochannejhad celebrates after scoring Iran’s late winner.

Reza Ghoochannejhad, named Samsung Player of the Match, was one of Queiroz’s ‘aces’, winning the game in the 91st minute after coming off the bench. Iran’s last-eight opponents will likely be Iraq in what could be a highly-charged affair in Canberra.


“I think Iran were more efficient today,” said the Kuwait-based Ghoochannejhad. “Luckily we scored in the dying seconds. Our team showed amazing spirit and chemistry. Right now everyone is happy, but we have to focus on the upcoming days.


“There is still a chance we play Japan, but it’ll probably be Iraq. If we play Iraq it’s up to the coach. We trust the coach that tactically he’ll come up with very strong organisation, with a good plan and we just have to do what he asks from us on the pitch.”


Earlier, Bahrain beat Qatar 2-1 in a match between the group’s two bottom-placed sides. A combination of good fortune and skill lay behind Sayed Ahmed Jaafar’s match-winning strike, said coach Marjan Eid, as his side ended their Asian Cup campaign on a high.


Jaafar’s perfectly flighted effort from the edge of the area sailed over Qasem Burhan’s head. Hasan Al Haydos’ free kick had earlier pulled Qatar level following Sayed Dhiya Shubbar’s first-half opener.


“I think we are lucky because this goal had some luck, but also the player had the vision to see this could happen,” Eid said of Jaafar’s clipped effort from more than 20 yards out. “He saw the goalkeeper off the line and he attacked the goal, and it was an advantage for our team.”


Source: Shintaro Kano / AFC Asian Cup (; Editing by SportAsia

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