Iran and Japan kick off the Asian Cup semi final round tomorrow in Al Ain. Qatar and UAE complete the semi final round on Tuesday in a politically loaded encounter. While politics is the highlight of the second semi final the match between Iran and Japan is a battle for history.
Iran have not won the Asian Cup since 1976 when they won it for the third time in a row. Japan have won the cup four times, the most of any Asian nation. Both nations have pride to fight for. Iran will want to stop Japan from having an opportunity to win it for a fifth time. Japan will want to stop Iran from matching their win record.
Japan have reach this stage of the tournament by beating each of the teams they faced by a single solitary goal. They have not been convincing and are not considered to be as dominant as past tournaments. This has been surprising given Japan’s excellent performance at the World Cup only eight months ago in Russia.
Iran have become sole favourites to win the Cup after South Korea and Australia crashed out unexpectedly. Iran have scored 12 goals on the way to the semi final and have conceded 0 goals thus far. The Iranian team is considered to be the most complete team at the tournament with strength at the top of the field as well as in the back.
Iran versus Japan is 90 minutes of football away from the final for team Iran. It is bound to be the hardest 90 minutes and it will be a risky match. Carlos Queiroz will have to make sure his team are not fooled by the favourites tag and take Japan very seriously.
Kick off: 18:00 Abu Dhabi time