Iran have been dealt with a major blow ahead of their AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign as their star striker Alireza Jahanbakhsh has been ruled out of their opening match against Yemen.
According to the Tehran Times, the Brighton & Hove Albion striker is not fit for the game after failing to shrug off a hamstring injury that he sustained during his club’s Premier League clash against Everton last October.
Team Melli are to face Yemen in Group D of the Asian Cup 2019 in Abu Dhabi on Monday. They will also face AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 champions Vietnam and Iraq in the group stages.
The news comes as a blow for Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz as he looks to bring the cup back to Iran after a gap of 43 years.
“From a medical and technical point of view, we have a strong belief that he will be able to recover for the competition, although possibly not for the first stage,” Queiroz had said earlier.
Iran are already reeling under injuries to key names like Saeid Ezatolahi, Ali Golizadeh and Sadegh Moharrami as they prepare for the opening match.