February 2 – After a big night of passion and a giant killing result that saw Jordan overcome South Korea to take their place in the Asian Cup final this weekend, it is the turn of hosts Qatar and Iran to battle for the right to play them.
The Qataris are – in name – pretty much the same team that played so disappointingly at the FIFA World Cup, but for the past month they looked to have recaptured the kind of form that drove them to the 2019 Asian Cup title in the UAE.
Qatar’s fans expect only one outcome, a home win, regardless of the fact they are facing an Iran that has improved as the tournament has progressed and in the last round dispatched a Japanese team loaded with players from Europe’s top leagues.
Qatar are on the verge of equalling Iran’s record Asian Cup run of 13 wins – if they beat the Iranians. If they retain their Asian Cup title they will break it.
In the run to the semi-finals, they were only pushed to the limit at the last eight stage where they needed a penalty shoot-out to beat Uzbekistan.
Goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham save three times. During play the Qataris at times struggled to create decisive, match winning moments despite the individual brilliance of Akram Afif.
Qatar will need Afif at his best to threaten Iran, and they desperately need striker Almoez Ali to find the form of 2019 that saw him break Asian Cup scoring records.
Hassan Al Haydos has long been Qatar’s match winner in tight situations though he rarely plays a full game. The three Qataris have scored eight goals between them this tournament.
If Qatar’s fans ooze confidence and expectation, coach Bartholome Marquez is more reserved.
“It’s our sixth game in a short period, so that will be physically demanding but we are still hopeful of a good performance,” said Marquez.
“Iran are a very strong team. We have not underestimated any team we have played in this competition so we will not start doing that against Iran.”
Qatar face a similarly…
Source link : https://www.insideworldfootball.com/2024/02/07/ready-rock-arabian-style-qatar-iran-take-centrestage-al-thumama/
Author : Paul Nicholson
Publish date : 2024-02-07 05:33:43
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