AFC Asian Cup 2019: We want to play a strong team like Iran – Iraq coach Katanec

With the the spot atop Group D on the line, Iraq coach Srecko Katanec is optimistic ahead of their pending clash against Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iraq are currently second behind IR Iran in the standings but both have won their first two matches – with Iraq beating Vietnam 3-2 before notching a hard-fought 3-0 victory over Yemen.

After their win in the second match of the competition, Katanec was happy with how his team performed.

Speaking to AFC, he said: “We played such a good game, I congratulated all the players, they did the job well. So now we know we are through (qualified for the knockout round) from this group.. and that is the most important thing.

“We still have a game to play against Iran. We played good football (against Yemen), we scored early and that was difficult for Yemen after being two goals down. We should have scored more but I’m very satisfied with my team’s performance.

“Maybe we could have scored more and played more aggressively in attack but you also must know how to play the game when you’re leading by two goals.”

The Iraqi coach hailed his striker Mohanad Ali Kadhim for his performances, but also believes the team need to perform better in the coming matches of the competition.

“Mohanad played a solid game today. He showed great character on the field. I know we can play better than this and we should play better if we want to win matches.”

Speaking about the match on hand, Katanec said: “You can’t compare the match we had with Vietnam and against Yemen. Vietnam played very fluid football for the first 45 minutes and we came out on top. Against Yemen, were a little complacent and maybe that’s why we need to play a strong team, on paper, like Iran.

“Maybe I’ll give chances for the other players in the next game. We will see. I can’t say for sure what my tactics will be against Iran, maybe three at the back, four or even five.”

AFC Asian Cup 2019: IR Iran coach wants team to step up against Iraq

Following their 2-0 win over Vietnam, IR Iran now face Iraq in their final AFC Asian Cup 2019 clash in the group stages.

The Group D battle will determine who finishes the group at the top of the table and IR Iran coach Carlos Queiroz believes this battle against Iraq is very important.

Speaking to AFC, “In football, the next game is always the most important one, and the match against Iraq is a crucial one for us,” declared the Portuguese tactician.

“Everything we do will now revolve around the match against Iraq, as we need to be fully focused to play against them. Both teams will be fighting to finish first in the group, as well as [maintaining] their reputation.

“We will of course try everything we can to be better than them.”

Sardar Azmoun scored a brace against Vietnam in their last match but Queiroz believes the whole team needs to step up to beat Iraq and possibly be the champions of the competition.

“I believe that you need to have your entire squad ready to make a contribution at any moment,” he revealed.

“You can win games with starting line-ups, but you win championships with squads. My duty as a coach is to keep the 23 players positive and with a constructive attitude.”

On the other hand, AFF Suzuki Cup champions Vietnam may have a hard time progressing through but coach Park Sang-heo revealed they are not lacking with hope to make it through.

“Today we saw that Iran were much stronger than us, it was very difficult for us to compete with them,” he said.

“It is not easy to achieve the high level required [at the AFC Asian Cup] in such a short period. However, this competition is a great experience, my team is getting better and their future is a bright one.

“I think it will not be easy to qualify for the next round by our own efforts as we can only get a maximum of three points. But we are going to do our absolute best and we really hope to get three points in the next match.”

AFC Asian Cup 2019: We are united and ready to fight against Bahrain – India’s Sunil Chhetri

With an all-important match against Bahrain in the horizon, India need to get the win in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 match if they want to move on in the knockout stages.

At the moment, they are second in Group A behind United Arab Emirates after losing 2-0 against the heavyweights. They now turn their attention to Bahrain and skipper Sunil Chhetri knows exactly what is at stake.

He said: “We are still in the running. We are ready to face Bahrain. As a team, we are united. We are ready to fight. That’s our game plan against Bahrain.”


Head coach Stephen Constantine echoed his star’s sentiments, saying: “We have to pick ourselves up and get ready for the next game. We need to aim for a win and get something from that game. Hopefully, we can get the result to qualify.”

Against the tournament hosts, India had a lot of chances to score but ultimately missed and found themselves down two goals.

Constantine shared what he told his players after the match, saying: “I said to the boys you did not lose this game. You have shown what you are capable of. Even they (UAE players) were surprised and did not believe that we were this good.

“We are only going to get better with this kind of games. The team has an average age of 25. The players will get only better from here. We had four clear chances to score but UAE scored with the half chance they had.”

Chhetri said: “It was a tight game. If we could have taken our chances it could have been different. UAE are a good side, and they converted their chances.”

AFC Asian Cup 2019 Predicted XI : Oman V Japan

Japan are looking to continue their unbeaten run in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 as they battle Oman in an Group F clash.

At the moment, Japan find themselves atop the table after a 3-2 win over Turkmenistan while Oman are looking to get their first points on the board after losing 2-1 to Uzbekistan in their 2019 curtain-raiser.

Expect these two nations to try and get maximum points over the other, and we take a look at the possible starting XI for both squads.

OMAN – 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Faiyz Al Rusheidi
Defenders: Ali Al-Busaidi, Mohammad Al-Musallami, Khalid Al-Braiki, Saad Al-Mukhaini
Midfielders: Ahmed Al Mahajiri, Harib Al-Saadi, Raed Saleh, Mohsin Al-Khaldi, Jameel Al Yahmadi
Forward: Muhsen Al Ghassani

JAPAN – 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Shuichi Gonda
Defenders: Yuto Nagamoto, Tomoaki Makino, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai
Midfielders: Gaku Shibasaki, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Genki Haraguchi, Takumi Minamino, Ritsu Doan
Forward: Yuya Osako

AFC Asian Cup 2019 Predicted XI: DPR Korea V Qatar

In their second matches in the AFC Asian Cup 2019, DPR Korea hope to finally get a win in the competition as they go up against Qatar who are looking to remain unbeaten and book their place in the next round.

At the moment, Qatar find themselves second in the table, three points behind leaders Saudi Arabia with a game on hand. A win would definitely seal their place in the next round but a loss can give life to the other teams in the cluster.

Meanwhile, DPR Korea find themselves at the bottom of the table but getting three big points against Qatar will change their fortunes in the competition.

With that in mind, here are the predicted starting XI for both teams:

DPR KOREA – 5-4-1

Goalkeeper: Ri Myong-guk
Defenders: Kim Chol-Bom, An Song-Il I, Jang Kuk-Chol, Kim Song-Gi, Ri Il-Jin
Midfielders: Jong-Il-Gwan, Ri Yong-jik, Ru Un-Chol, Rim Kwang-Yok
Forward: Pak Kwang-Ryong

QATAR – 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Saad Al Sheeb
Defenders: Abdulkarim Al-Ali, Tarek Salman, Bassam Al Rawi, Pedro Correira
Midfielders: Assim Omer Madibo, Karim Boudiaf, Hasan Al Haydos, Boualem Khoukhi, Akram Hassan Afif
Forward: Almoez Ali

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Japan coach wants team to adapt in order to beat Oman

Needing a great second half to win their first AFC Asian Cup 2019 match against Turkmenistan, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu asked the team to show the same intensity from the start when they face Oman.

The Japanese trailed 1-0 to the underdogs Turkmenistan but produced a scintillating performance in the second half to score three goals and eventually win 3-2.

With the win, they are currently atop Group F while Oman find themselves fourth after a 2-1 loss to Uzbekistan in their tournament curtain-raiser.

Speaking to AFC, Moriyasu wants the team to adapt appropriately as there are no easy matches in the competition. He revealed: “We faced some difficulty against Turkmenistan and tomorrow, it will be the same against Oman. We know that every game will be difficult but the key is to adapt.

“We will have a gameplan and I would like it if we dominate but if we can’t, we must be able to change our approach. It is important that we play with the intention of taking the game to Oman.

“The players must be focused and, more importantly, able to change our style if there is a need.”

Despite losing against Uzbekistan, Moriyasu was impressed with Oman, saying: “Oman have very quick counter-attacks but can also hold the ball well too. We have to be mindful of that as they can hit us if we let our guard down.

“However, we have prepared well and I hope the players express themselves on the pitch. Ideally, I would like to seal a place in the next stage tomorrow but we must be patient, not pressure ourselves.”

On the other hand, Oman coach Pim Verbeek praised Japan as one of the best teams in Asia but claims they are not fearful of the Samurai Blue.

He said: “We are looking forward to playing probably one of the best teams in Asia. They are a big team, experienced, played in the World Cup six months ago and now have brought in new talent. We are excited to be playing them.

“We won’t fear them as we need the points after being so unlucky against Uzbekistan.”

Despite the loss to Uzbekistan, their impressive performance is what they will bring to face the Japanese.

“We played very well against Uzbekistan but we were unlucky to concede so late. The players, however, have been told of what went wrong and we will face Japan with confidence.

“We must capitalise on Japan’s weaknesses, if there is any. The players have watched the match against Turkmenistan and they will go into the match fully aware of what we need to do for the three points.”

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Qatar coach Sanchez will not change tactics in DPR Korea clash

Ahead of their clash against DPR Korea in the AFC Asian Cup 2019, Qatar coach Felix Sanchez claims he will be employing the same approach as he did in the last match they had against Lebanon.

Qatar beat their rivals 2-0 in their last Asian Cup match but many believed it could have been more given how dominant they were.

However, only getting to score a goal past the hour mark of the match, some where left to wonder on why it took so long to break through.

Speaking to AFC ahead of their DPR Korea match, Sanchez still hailed his players and now turn their focus on the Koreans.

“Each match is different and we cannot renounce the way we play. It’s difficult to change now, but we need to find solutions to be more close to the opposition’s goal.

“But in front you always have an opponent and Lebanon showed they’re a well organised team and they were very physical. This was the first game and it’s never easy to do the right thing all the time in the first game.

“But the team showed they were patient enough and, hopefully, in the next game we will perform better and do something that we couldn’t do in the last game.”

And while Sanchez failed to discuss whether 2018 AFC Player of the Year Abdelkarim Hassan will start against DPR Korea, the coach knows that getting as much goals as possible in their coming match will help them reach the top of the table.

“We’re focusing game-by-game and goal difference can make the difference in the ranking, so for that reason when we play the game we’re going to try to be focused and perform during the 90 minutes so we can get the best result for us,” he said.

“We know it’s going to be a very tough opponent and we are going to play a very good game tomorrow to get the result.”

As for DPR Korea, they will not have the services of striker Han Kwang-song after he was sent off in their loss to Saudi Arabia, but coach Kim Yong-jun does not seem phased as he believes he has players ready to step up to the plate when needed.

“I can say that without him there will be some effect but I don’t think it will be too big because we have some good players like our captain, Jong Il-gwan, and Pak Kwang Ryong, who plays in Austria, so I don’t think there will be a big effect for the second match,” he revealed.

“Our primary target in this tournament is to qualify for the next round, so for the last three days we have focused in training on the mistakes we made in the first game. We’ve been training for three days and we’re ready for the game.

“In the first game we focused more on defence than attacking and we didn’t create many goal scoring chances and to overcome this we’ll be playing more offensively than we did in the last match.”

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Vietnam skipper praises IR Iran and speaks on Yemen

Following another loss in the AFC Asian Cup 2019, Vietnam know their final match in the competition against Yemen is a must-win if they still want to hope have a chance in the knockout stages of the tournament.

The AFF Suzuki Cup champions lost 2-0 to Iran and with their first outing also resulting in a defeat against Iraq, the Golden Dragons have their backs against the wall.

Speaking to reporters, Vietnam skipper Nguyen Quang Hai praised their opponents and gave his thoughts on their coming battle against fourth-placed Yemen.

He said: “They showed their level in this match despite us doing our best. We are proud of our performance and our spirit.

“Many people will think Yemen are a weak team, but we do not. No matter who we play in this competition we will show them respect. In the last match, we will try our hardest to beat the team and qualify for the knockout stages.”

Vietnam face Yemen in their last match and are hoping to get a win and a good enough position to land them on of the few spots in the next stage. Meanwhile, IR Iran and Iraq will battle for the top-of-the-table.

LIVE: AFC Asian Cup 2019 – Kyrgyz Republic V Korea Republic

Kyrgyz Republic hope to challenge AFC Asian Cup 2019 contenders Korea Republic in their upcoming Group C clash.

As debutants, Kyrgyz Republic are hoping to at least get a point against the heavily favoured rivals as a decent performance should be a victory on its own.

At the moment, Korea Republic are second in the group after squeezing in a 1-0 victory over a tough Philippines squad a few nights ago.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyz Republic are outside looking in as they lost 2-1 to China PR in their first-ever AFC Asian Cup appearance.

The two teams will meet at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain and it should be interesting to see how the two teams will fare.

Join us in our live blog coverage below! Leave comments and join the discussion!

Read: Korea Republic Paulo Bento speaks ahead of match.


LIVE: AFC Asian Cup 2019 – Philippines V China PR

The Philippines are now in the second match of their AFC Asian Cup 2019 debut as they face China PR in a Group C clash.

As of this writing, the clashing nations are at opposite ends of the cluster as China PR are on top following their win over Kyrgyz Republic, while the Philippines were game but eventually lost 1-0 to the heavily favoured Korea Republic.

Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be the venue for this thrilling battle and the Philippines are hoping to keep their hopes alive of featuring in the knockout stages by taking three points against China PR.

Be with us through this match with our live blog below!

AFC Asian Cup 2019 Predicted XI: Palestine V Australia

Two wins looking for a win in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 meet as Palestine challenge defending champions Australia in a Group B battle.

At the moment, Palestine find themselves second in the table after a draw against Syria but the more surprising result is that Australia are at the bottom of the group after a loss to Jordan in their opening match.

With their backs against the wall, the champions need maximum points at the expense of Palestine.

Both teams definitely need a positive performance to keep their AFC Asian Cup tournament lives alive and here’s the possible starting XI that will try to give them maximum points.


Goalkeeper: Rami Hamada
Defenders: Mus’ab Al Battat, Abdallatif Al Bahdari, Alexis Norambuena, Abdallah Gaber
Midfielders: Pablo Tamburrini, Muhamad Darwish, Jonathan Cantillana, Sameh Maraaba, Tamer Seyam
Forward: Yashir Pinto


Goalkeeper: Mathew David Ryan
Defenders: John Risdon, Milos Degenek, Trent Sainsbury, Aziz Behich
Midfielders: Mark Milligan, Massimo Corey Luongo, Awer Mabil, Tomas Rogic, Robbia Kruse
Forward: Jamie MacLaren

LIVE: AFC Asian Cup 2019 – Palestine V Australia

It’s a Group B battle as defending champions Australia take on Palestine in the AFC Asian Cup 2019.

Both teams are looking for their first wins in the competition with Palestine in second place in the table with one point.

Meanwhile, the Australians were shocked by a loss to Jordan in their first outing and are now hoping to turn things around as they continue their defence.

The match will be held at Rashid Stadium in Dubai and we expect a thrilling encounter as both teams go for maximum points.

Please join us in our live blog below!

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Fans single out Ashique Kuruniyan’s performance against UAE as a major worry

India recently lost 2-0 to AFC Asian Cup 2019 hosts UAE which saw their hopes of reaching the knockout stages slightly dimmed.

Entering the clash at the top of Group A after a big win over Thailand, many were hoping that India would stun the hosts and stay unbeaten in their run.

However, they were wasteful with their chances and failed to capitalise on their opportunities – eventually paying the price by allowing two goals for their rivals.

Now they find themselves off the top of the group must now beat Bahrain in order to move on.

Fans aired out their frustration through social media but seemed to have put much of the blame on Ashique Kuruniyan.

The 21-year-old had difficulty settling down in the match and failed to lead the team to victory.

This prompted many to air their grievances:

Others believe that Ashique shouldn’t be given chances moving forward:

Others admitted that while he did well in the first match, he was nowhere to be found against UAE.

Others thought that he should have been taken off as he was not contributing in the match:

Some believe that a change in position was needed for him to be more effective:

Here are some more reactions from fans:

Hopefully the 21-year-old can bounce back and prove his doubters wrong in the future.

AFC Asian Cup 2019: Scenarios on how India can move on to the knockout stages

Following their loss to UAE in the AFC Asian Cup 2019, India have lost the lead atop the Group A standings but still see themselves second in the table.

With the top two spots assured passage to the knockout stages, India hold a lead over Thailand who are third thanks to having the benefit of the tiebreakers.

However, with Bahrain on the horizon and Thailand going up against tournament hosts UAE, India need to ensure their passage into the next round by getting maximum points over their last Group A opponent.


If they beat Bahrain, then it does not matter if Thailand get a victory over UAE as well as that ensures India’s inclusion to the next round, if Thailand beat UAE that drops the hosts to third place and the War Elephants go up to second.


In the instance that Bahrain beat India, things get complicated for the group. Currently with one point, Bahrain now is at four and India definitely drops out of the top two spots. If Thailand lose to UAE, India have a slight chance depending on their place among the other third-placed teams. If the Thais get at least a point then India drop down to fourth and they’re eliminated.


If India and Bahrain end in a draw, then UAE must get at least a point against Thailand so India secures their spot in second place. If UAE and Thailand end in a draw, the hosts have five points to remain atop, and India and Thailand both have four points – in which the tiebreaker goes to India.

Assuming India gets a point against Bahrain and Thailand beat UAE, then Thailand end up atop Group A, with UAE second, and India third as they lose the tiebreaker to the hosts.

With all these, India must try and forget the frustration they had with all the missed chances against UAE and concentrate on getting the win over Bahrain in their final group stage match of the competition.