May 27, 2024
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Forbes – DUBAI, Asia’s biggest soccer tournament takes place this month in the United Arab Emirates as 24 teams from across the continent compete in the 2019 Asian Cup.

The tournament, which takes place every four years, has been expanded from 16 teams to 24 teams, giving some of Asia’s smaller soccer-playing nations a chance to compete. Yemen, the Philippines, and Kyrgyzstan will be making their first Asian Cup finals appearances in this year’s tournament.

Iran go into the tournament as favorites after dominating Asian soccer over the last four years. They have only lost one competitive game since the last Asian Cup in 2015, and that loss was to Spain. Rubin Kazan’s Sardar Azmoun and Brighton and Hove Albion’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh will cause teams problems going forward, but Iran’s main strength is in defense. Former Real Madrid and Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz has created such a solid and organized back-line that Iran managed to go twelve matches without conceding a single goal during qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.