Fox Sports Asia – ABU DHABI, Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz has said that Team Melli and Yemen, their opponents in their AFC Asian Cup 2019 opener, will play to bring happiness and pride to the people of their respective countries.
Iran and Yemen, the highest-ranked and lowest-ranked teams in the tournament respectively, are scheduled to face each other in a Group D encounter at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
And the Portuguese head coach said that the two countries, who have their fair share of problems back home, will be on a mission to build bridges of hope by playing football.
“I do believe that this game, especially this one between Iran and Yemen, it is a huge mission for both teams,” said the former Real Madrid manager ahead of their continental championship opener.
“We come here with the goal of building bridges of hope, not bridges of fear. That is what the players will be focused on — to produce great entertainment, happiness, and pride for the fans in Yemen and in Iran,” Queiroz said.
“We cannot control the outcome of the game, but we can control our attitude and commitment.”
“I always challenge my players to play for the people, with the responsibility of finishing the game with the head up, being sure that when leaving the pitch, they know the fans are proud of them and feel happy with the courage, the bravery, and the positive attitude. This is what always matters for me, and I feel proud of my players for that,” he said.
“There is a lot of people working and suffering outside and football has always the obligation to produce entertainment and happiness for them. This is what both teams will do for sure [on Monday],” Queiroz said.
“Most of the people sometimes don’t know the meaning of FIFA. For me, it is Football International Family Association,” he said.
“We belong to the same family, the family of entertainment, joy, happiness. This is what both teams will work for — on finishing the game feeling proud — of yourself, and your family, friends, and fans; finishing the game with the wish of watching another football match right after. This is what matters,” said the 65-year-old.
Iran are looking to win their first Asian Cup title in 43 years. They are pitted with Yemen, Iraq and AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 champions Vietnam in Group D of the Asian Cup 2019.