April 17, 2024
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AFC – MELBOURNE, Coach Carlos Queiroz insists three-time champions Iran are looking forward to Sunday’s AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Group C opener against Bahrain despite only playing two friendlies since the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Former Portugal coach Queiroz opted to remain with Iran following the global extravaganza in Brazil where Team Melli emerged with a plenty of positives despite only picking up a point against Nigeria before losing to both Argentina and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

However, Iran have only played two friendlies since returning from South America with Sunday’s 1-0 win over Iraq in Sydney – courtesy of Sardar Azmoun’s strike – following on from their victory against Korea Republic by the same scoreline in Tehran in November.

“We are looking forward to playing this game against Bahrain, but now it is time to rest and train and prepare ourselves mentally,” said former Real Madrid coach
Queiroz after arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of the meeting with Bahrain at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

“We have not improved since the World Cup. It is worse now because we have not had the preparation we should have.

“When you gamble too much with bad preparation, your chances are not as high as before,” he added.

Queiroz’s charges are making a record-equalling 13th AFC Asian Cup appearance in Australia having won Group B of the qualifiers with an unbeaten record ahead of Kuwait.

Iran, though, have suffered back-to-back quarter-final exits in 2007 and 2011 having finished third in 2004. They last reached the final in 1976 as Team Melli picked up their third consecutive continental title by beating Kuwait 1-0 in the final.

“I feel totally committed and loyal to the players and their wishes and desires to do well at this Asian Cup,” Queiroz declared.

Recently crowned Gulf Cup champions Qatar and a highly-rated United Arab Emirates have also been drawn in Group C alongside Iran and Bahrain, with the pair beginning their campaigns in Canberra also on Sunday.