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Iran National Team Learns About Rivals in AFC Asian Cup 2019

Iran is expected to seal the top spot of the group but its matches against Iraq are always challenging
The final draw for the 2019 edition of the AFC Asian cup tournament, during the official draw event in Dubai on Friday.The final draw for the 2019 edition of the AFC Asian cup tournament, during the official draw event in Dubai on Friday.

After more than three years of qualifying suspense, Asia’s 24 best teams finally discovered their AFC Asian Cup 2019 group stage challengers on Friday.

The draw of the final tournament was held in Dubai, the UAE, which will host the Asian Cup next year, AFC wrote.

Several of the most iconic names in Asian football were present at the draw including Iran’s former captain Ali Daei, who was the top scorer the last time the tournament was held in the UAE in 1996, former China and Manchester City star Sun Jihai, as well as current stars India’s Sunil Chettri and Philip Younghusband from the Philippines. They selected the teams from the four pots. Daei pulled out the name of teams from Pot 1 where Iran was seeded.

Asia’s best ranked side Iran, which is looking to secure its fourth title, and the first since 1976, has been drawn in Group D alongside 2007 winner Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen, which will be appearing in their first tournament.

Writing on his Instagram feed after the draw, Daei wrote, "it was no different for Iran to be drawn in which group. The draw is not important for the team which wants to be the champion. I'm sure we'll win the Asian Cup this time. Queiroz and our players are capable of doing so."

Team Melli Manager Carlos Queiroz also commented on the draw on his Instagram account. "Talent can win games but it takes character to be a champion," he wrote. "Iran is for almost four years the best Asian national football team in FIFA ranking. Team Melli players have enough talent and character to challenge one excellent opportunity to fight for the Asian Cup title".

However he also noted in the post that what matters is not the result of the draw but whether the team is well lead and prepared for the event or not.

Iran is expected to seal the top spot of the group but its matches against Iraq are always competitive affairs. Vietnam and Yemen will focus on sealing a place in the knockout stage.

Park Hang Seo, Vietnam head coach told the-AFC.com, “We’ve been grouped with one of the strongest teams in Asia - Iran. Iraq and Yemen can be very tricky teams to face but our players have experience playing West Asian teams.”

Also talking to the AFC website, Yemen head coach, Abraham Mebratu Gebrelassie said, “looking at the draw, there is no easy group but when it comes to our group, Iran is one of the best together with Iraq which have plenty of experience playing internationals and Olympic matches – hence those two teams are very strong."

Other Groups

The host country was positioned in first place of Group A, and according to the draw, it will kick off the tournament against Bahrain at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on January 5, 2019.

It will be looking to improve on its second place finish the last time the competition was held in the UAE in 1996, but will face formidable opponents in India and Thailand which complete the cast in Group A.

Meanwhile defending champion Australia was drawn in Group B with 2004 and 2011 quarterfinalists Jordan as well as Palestine and Syria which return to the competition following their absence in Australia 2015.

Continent powerhouse and 2015 finalist South Korea, which is on the hunt for the first title since 1960, is drawn in Group C with two-time runner-up China as well as two debutants in the UAE 2019 - Kyrgyz Republic and the Philippines.

In Group E, two-time champion Saudi Arabia is drawn with 2011 host Qatar, along with Lebanon, which will be returning to the competition for only the second time after a 19-year absence as well as North Korea.

The tournament’s most successful side with four titles, Japan is in Group F and will face Uzbekistan, which has progressed past the group stage for the last four editions of the competition as well as Oman and Turkmenistan.

The final draw also introduced a $14.8 million total prize money, the unveiling of a stunning new trophy, a cutting-edge molten match ball and the launch of the tournament’s official mascots - Mansour and Jarrah.

Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi will also host the final on February 1, 2019 after 28 days of enthralling action.

In the 62-year history of the games Japan is leading in the number of won titles with four. Iran has three in 1968, 1972 and 1976 for three consecutive events. Saudi Arabia has also won three titles so far.

Iran finished in third place four times in 1980, 1988, 1996 and 2004.

 

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