July 21, 2024

Team Melli Omid Iran U-23

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PersianFootball.com (Doha) – In its last match of the group stage of the AFC U-23 Championships in Qatar, Team Melli Omid will face China in the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium tomorrow. A victory will guarantee a quarterfinals’ appearance for Iran and extend the road to the 2016 Olympics in Rio by at least one more match.

Coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to hosts Qatar, Team Melli Omid must bounce back strongly to convince the fans and opponents alike, why they deserve to remain in this competition.  With China’s 8 match losing streak and defensive wall broken down 6 times in the previous 2 matches, expectations are understandably very high for Iran.

China will also be without the services of their first choice custodian Du Jia as well as midfielder and former Atletico Madrid B player Xu Shin – both serving red-card suspensions.  But coach Fu Bo has promised a confident display and vowed that his team will not be an easy prospect for Iran.

It is not clear however how Bo plans to achieve this or approach the match, given that China are not mathematically out of the competition.  A victory against Iran with a three goal margin will [and with a two goal margin may] see them through to the next round if Qatar are victorious against Syria in the other group match played simultaneously at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

That seems like an impossible task for a team with serious fitness problems and discipline issues, lack of any creativity in midfield and offense, and no shortage of vulnerabilities in defense, but as the saying goes anything is possible in football. China’s only two goals thus far have come from free kicks.

Iranian coach Mohammad Khakpour has a much stronger squad and faces better odds of advancing his team to the quarterfinals, but his lack of experience and tactical faux pas in the match against Qatar cost Iran three valuable points and tarnished his own credibility in lieu of his pre-tournament assertion that his team was in Doha not just to qualify for the Olympics, but to lift the trophy.

The fans will undoubtedly be on the edge of their seats tomorrow with the kick-off scheduled for 19:30 local time [17:30 CET, 11:30 EST] and unless Iran can assert their dominance on the match early on with at least one goal, this may prove to be another nail-biter.

Scenarios Under Which Iran Will Reach the Quarterfinals

* Loss to China with a 1 goal margin: Iran will go through as the 2nd team in the group IF Qatar beat Syria (approx odds to advance 30%).

* Draw against China: Iran will go through as the 2nd team in the group IF Syria don’t beat Qatar (approx odds to advance 65%).

* Victory against China: Iran will go through as the 1st team in the group IF Syria beat Qatar with a one or two goal margin or exact score of 3-0 (approx odds to finish 1st 30%) – otherwise Iran will go through as the second team.

Expected Formation: 4-1-4-1

Possible Starting Lineup: Mohammadreza Akhbari (G), Ali Abdollahzadeh (D), Roozbeh Cheshmi (D), Mohammad Daneshgar (D), Vahid Heidarieh (D), Ali Karimi (DM), Mehdi Torabi (M), Alireza Naghizadeh (M), Milad Kamandani (M), Milad Mohammadi (M), Amir Arsalan Motahari (F)