April 16, 2024
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Tehran Times – KUALA LUMPUR, The eighteenth edition of the AFC Asian Cup officially kicked off in Doha on Friday. Iran national football team are looking to bring an end to 47-year title drought.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus, China withdrew as host country for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which now takes place in Qatar in 2024.

Defending champions Qatar kicked off their tournament with a convincing triumph over Lebanon, signaling a strong start for both the team and their fans, Farokh Hasabi, Tehran Times correspondent, reported from Qatar.

Amir Ghalenoei will lead Iran’s national team in their first match against Palestine in Group C at Education City Stadium on Sunday, the third day of the tournament. Iran come into this match with a record of 11 wins and two draws in the 13 games coached by Ghalenoei. Team Melli defeated Indonesia 5-0 in their recent friendly match, paving the way for their first official match against Palestine.

While Qatar successfully hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2022, it’s evident that the 2023 Asian Cup falls short in terms of excitement, fan engagement, and overall ambiance when compared to the global football spectacle.

The smaller number of teams and less captivating matches in the group stages have contributed to a less heated start to the competition. For those who experienced the FIFA World Cup in Qatar a year ago, the AFC Asian Cup, and its comparison to the global event, feels different. Doha currently lacks the frenzy witnessed during the World Cup.

Iran, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia are among the favorites to win the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

Paulo Bento, head coach of the UAE national team, acknowledges the strength of Iran and praises their skilled and formidable players.

While many teams recognize Iran’s strength, the question remains whether Iranian football can fulfill its 47-year quest for an AFC Asian Cup title under Amir Ghalenoei’s leadership.