May 27, 2024
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836 views – ABU DHABI, After a sparkling 5-0 win over Yemen in the opener, Vietnam will be a stiffer opponent for Team Melli on Saturday.

The Vietnamese, who are the reigning ASEAN football federation champions, were on the brink of at least snatching a point from Iraq in their first game, but ran out of steam towards the end and where eventually beaten by a late set-piece.

But although Vietnam shouldn’t pose a real threat to title-hopefuls Iran, they will be the perfect next level test after a rather helpless Yemeni side.

Not many starting lineup changes expected

There are barely any reasons for Queiroz to make changes to his team. Majid Hosseini, who had been precautiously subbed out at halftime after not feeling well following a random doping blood test, will probably remain in the starting lineup.

Optionally, the booked Ramin Rezaeian could make space for Vouria Ghafouri, who could be the more suitable choice against the fast paced South East Asians. Similarly, Milad Mohammadi might be a feasible option for the left over Ehsan Hajsafi.

Playmaker Ashan Dejagah might already be given a rest, considering he might have a long tournament ahead of him, but his dominant midfield performance against Yemen would sorrowly be missed. Nevertheless, Masoud Shojaei, Saman Ghoddos or Karim Ansarifard are available alternatives.

Upfront, Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun should be fixed starters. Surprise starter Mehdi Torabi might have to make space for Saman Ghoddos, despite a good performance in the first match. Iran star Alireza Jahanbakhsh meanwhile returned to the team training, but a start can be ruled out, a substitute appearance still being unlikely.

Should Iran win this game, they would qualify for the knockout stage, but regardless of Iraq’s result against Yemen, the battle for the top spot in the group wouldn’t be decided yet as head-to-head result is the primary tie-breaker in case of even points.

Iran’s probable lineup: Beiranvand – Ghafouri, Pouraliganji, Hosseini, Hajsafi – Ebrahimi – Dejagah, Amiri – Torabi, Taremi – Azmoun