AFC – ABU DHABI, Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Carlos Quieroz has labelled his side’s AFC Asian Cup Round of 16 match against Oman as a ’50-50′ tie.
Queiroz is highly impressed with Pim Verbeek’s Oman and has warned his players to be on their toes against the Gulf Cup champions ahead of the last 16 tie at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
“The Oman team is a very good team. They have prepared well and have achieved fantastic results over the last year or so. They played 23, 24 matches and only lost two or three.
“They have a very good coach in Pim Verbeek and we must be careful against them,” said Queiroz.
Oman may have qualified as one of the four best third-placed teams but turned heads with fighting performances against Uzbekistan and Japan before losing 2-1 and 1-0 respectively.
Their determination to qualify for the knockout stage was so great that they kept pushing right till the end against Turkmenistan on Matchday Three, with the third goal coming deep in stoppage time, with the 3-1 win sealing their place.
“They have been very impressive but having said that, I am confident that if we play our game and the players express themselves, we will progress,” said Queiroz.
Focus, said the Portuguese tactician, will be key.
“The group stage results do not matter now. We played for points then but now, it is about survival. I rate the match as 50-50 with everything for the winners and nothing for the losers.
“There is no room for mistakes, regrets, apologies and tomorrows. It all comes down to 90 minutes and we must make sure we come out on top.”
Iran, stressed Queiroz, will keep the game simple.
“I always tell my players to keep it simple. Control the ball, pass the ball, don’t lose the ball and score. When we have the ball, we must always be positive and think of scoring.”
That they have done very well, having defeated Yemen 5-0 and Vietnam 2-0 before playing to a 0-0 draw with Iraq.
“We have our dreams, our aspirations and our targets. When we started, I said we had seven finals to play and tomorrow is the fourth one. I am confident my players will deliver what is expected of them.”
Verbeek’s Oman are also equally confident, despite having to face the Continent’s top ranked team.
“Rankings do not matter in a match like this. We will do everything we can to advance to the quarter-finals. My players are excited and confident,” said Verbeek, who has guided Oman to their first AFC Asian Cup knockout stage in four attempts.
“These are the kind of games we train for, whether as coaches or players. Iran
The Dutchman said he isn’t concerned about Iran’s defence, which has been a fortress.
“They are very strong in defence but no team is perfect. We have seen some weaknesses and if my players can create chances, I am sure we will score.
“We have a chance to make more history and there will be total commitment from us tomorrow.”
Neither side have injury worries with Iranian forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who featured for 60 minutes against Iraq, fit to be considered for selection while Oman midfielder Mohsin Al Khaldi has also been training well.