Iran national team coach Carlos Queiroz believes that, among all the teams competing in the AFC Asian Cup 2019, three teams are already guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages of the competition.
Speaking to reporters, Queiroz admitted their target is to reach the final four of the competition but still concedes facing Yemen in their campaign opener will be a tough task.
“We are fully ready for the AFC Asian Cup and believe in our abilities. Now, we are focusing on our first match against Yemen. It will be the most important match for us. After this match, we will think about Vietnam and Iraq matches,” the former Real Madrid coach said.
Queiroz admits that Australia, Japan and South Korea are favourites to advance to the next round and squads like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iran should start well as they are in for a fight for the remaining places.
“Undoubtedly, our dream is to reach to the final four. Defending champions Australia, Japan and South Korea will most likely qualify for the semifinals and Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and China have to fight to advance to the semis as the fourth team,” Queiroz said.
Queiroz naturally includes Australia as the heavyweights considering they are heading into the competition as defending champions.
Meanwhile, the Japanese hold the record for the most number of AFC Asian Cup triumphs with four, with their last being in 2011.
As for South Korea, they’ve constantly been in the running – finishing as runners-up in 2015 while finishing third in 2000, 2007 and 2011.