Qatar gets ready for Iran test with an eye on AFC Asian Cup final

Qatar gets ready for Iran test with an eye on AFC Asian Cup final

QLNews
By QLNews

Hosts Qatar, who are also the defending Asian champions, are gearing up for the game of their lives as they take on Iran in the semifinals of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

The two teams, who have had an undefeated run in the tournament so far, will have everything to play for as they lock horns at the Al Thumama Stadium on Wednesday.

Iran, who had completed a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Japan in the quarterfinals, are on a high. Qatar too have had some games in the tournament so far.

With the second spot in the final up for grabs, here is a look at how the teams are preparing for the all-important game.     

IRAN VS QATAR

Kick-off: 6:00pm
Venue: Al Thumama Stadium

A buoyant Iran are keeping their eyes on the prize as head coach Ardeshir Ghalehnoy looks to win the battle of wits against Qatar’s Marquez Lopez in the AFC Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

Iran are riding high after their come-from-behind 2-1 win over Japan in the quarterfinals and Ghalehnoy is banking on plotting another successful game plan to end Qatar’s reign as champions.

“We know that the match against Qatar is very important. All that we did until now is to reach the final. I told my players to forget the Japan match, what’s important now is to beat Qatar and reach the final. We know they’re a good team, the defending champions, and have spent a lot to improve the team,” said Ghalehnoy.

“We may make changes for the game, but the level of the team is almost the same, so the quality of the starting XI will not be affected. Tactics that we make in every match, 70 to 80% are related to the strength of our team and the balance related to the opponent,” he added.

Iran hold an impeccable recent record against Qatar, winning all six matches in all competitions dating back to 2013, but the 60-year-old tactician doesn’t want complacency setting into his team. 

In fact, Ghalehnoy is demanding that his players do more than they did when they knocked Japan out as Iran looks to reach their first AFC Asian Cup final since 1976.

“Qatar reaching this stage means they’re high-quality. We cannot keep looking at the Japan result and think that’ll take us through. We’ve to concentrate more, show more quality, and cover more distance. With all that, I hope we can reach the final for the first time in a long time,” he said.

Mehdi Taremi will be available for the game after serving a one-match suspension, with the Porto FC forward looking to add to his three goals. Taremi will only be one of several players Qatar will have to contain, with Team Melli also able to count on the likes of Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Sardar Azmoun, and Saman Ghoddos for goals.

However, Qatar head coach Lopez has a full squad to choose from, and with Akram Afif, Hassan Al Haydos and Almoez Ali sharing eight goals in the competition, Qatar does have the arsenal to hurt Iran.

“We recognise it’s going to be a very tough match. It’s our sixth game in a short period, so that’ll be physically demanding but we’re still hopeful of a good performance,” said Lopez.

“Iran are a very strong team. We haven’t underestimated any team we’ve played in this competition, so we won’t start doing that against Iran. Of course, we enter this match with big motivation, we’re one step away from the final. We’ve a chance to reach a second straight final, which is a big driving factor for us,” said the coach.

“Iran’s attack is very strong and we’re aware of this. We’ve plans for that and we’ll try to minimise their quality up front. There’re no talk about trying to take this match into penalties. We always play to win, and that’ll be what we’ll be doing tomorrow,” he signed off.

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