Fox Sports Asia – ABU DHABI, Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is confident that winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh can shake off his injury concerns and put his best foot forward for Team Melli in the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
The Brighton star has struggled with a nagging hamstring injury this season which initially threatened his involvement in the Asian Cup.
However, his coach believes he can play a part in Iran’s campaign – at least once the knockout rounds begin.
“From a medical and technical point of view, we have a strong belief that he will be able to recover for the competition, although possibly not for the first stage,” Queiroz explained to Reuters.
Jahanbakhsh has been named in Iran’s squad despite the injury, but can be replaced upto 24 hours before the side’s first game if needed.
Iran go into the tournament as one of the favourites, but injuries to a number of key players including Saeid Ezatolahi, Ali Golizadeh and Sadegh Moharrami could impact their run in the competition.
After starring in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they fell heartbreakingly short of a spot in the Round of 16, Iran’s form has tailed off a bit, but Queiroz is confident of their ability to bounce back and make a strong statement.
“After the World Cup we were living a good moment with our performances and the opportunities that most of our players got to live and play in good teams in Europe, but unfortunately we have been hit by a wave of injuries since September.
“But we have a settled group with good foundations and good knowledge between all of them and we just need to turn these difficulties into belief and hope. We’re going to try.”
Team Melli begin their campaign against Yemen before squaring off against Vietnam and Iraq as they chase their first Asian Cup title since 1976.