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Group D Iran vs. Yemen
Iran’s quest for the elusive Asian Cup begins on Monday against Yemen. Iran are playing their last tournament with Carlos Queiroz as head coach and for Iranians it is either Champions or bust.
The last time Iran won the Asian Cup was in 1976 when Iran hosted the tournament. Revolution and war interrupted the development of the team but in 1996 the Iranian national team roared back to the top of Asian football. Coincidently that was the first time the UAE hosted the Asian tournament.
Expectations for the first game are that Iran should win relatively easily. Yemen have never been at a competitive team and with the country in turmoil it is difficult to see how they would have been given the resources to develop.
Iran and Yemen have played two previous times. Once in the 1994 Asian Games where Iran won 4-0 and the second time was a 2012 international friendly in which Iran also came out victorious 2-1. However those two matches may not have had a full strength national team and certainly were before Carlos Queiroz.
The Queiroz era of Iranian football has propelled Iran to the top of Asian football and brought discipline to the team. Respectable performances at both Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018 have Iranian expectations in the stratosphere.
Iran has played in fourteen Asian cup tournaments and has scored 119 goals while conceding 45. Out of 62 games Iran has won 37, tied 18 and lost only 7.
Yemen will have a difficult opening game and anything short of a Iranian win is unacceptable to Iranian fans. Expect Iran on the attack and Yemen to rely on counter attacks. This is an an Asian David versus Goliath and in this case David is virtually guaranteed of defeat at the hands of the Iranian Goliath.
Kick off time
Tehran Time: 19:30
New York Time: 11:00
UAE local time: 20:00
Tickets to all Asian Cup games available at https://www.ticketmaster.ae/artist/afc-asian-cup-uae-2019-tickets/990318