IR Iran could do with all the support they can get as Team Melli face perennial favourites Japan in the semifinal of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Monday.
But their star forward Karim Ansarifard has revealed the name of one person he would like to see cheering the side on when they face the four-time champions. And it is none other than Iran’s legendary striker Ali Daei.
“Daei is one of the legends of Iranian football,” the Nottingham Forest attacker told the-AFC.com ahead of the semifinal.
“All our legends, all the pioneers of football in our country, have always supported us. I personally want to ask him [Daei] to be with Team Melli for this match so that he can give us the positive energy he always does,” Ansarifard, who scored in Iran’s 3-0 win over China PR in the quarterfinals, said.
“We are from the same city and he is the one who introduced me to football. Even now I wear his number, so I implore him to join us for this game,” said the current Iran No. 10.
Daei is still the highest goalscorer in a single Asian Cup having scored eight in the 1996 Asian Cup, also held in the UAE. He also holds the record for the all-time leading goalscorer in international football with 109 goals with Cristiano Ronaldo still only chasing him in the second spot with 85 goals.
Ansarifard also said that he and his teammates will do their best to win the prestigious trophy this time around.
“It’s hundred percent our dream is to win the 2019 Asian Cup. Hopefully it happens as we are all dreaming of Iran being the champions. We will try for the people of our country, so that we can achieve everyone’s dream,” he said.
“The Japan team’s capabilities are recognised by everyone in Asia, everyone knows what a good and powerful team they have. However, we have a very powerful team too, something we’ve shown in our [previous] matches,” the 28-year-old said.
Highlights – China vs Iran
“We are a hundred percent ready for this match. We are going to use all our energy and the technical abilities that we possess. Hopefully, come the final whistle, we will be able to celebrate our progress to the final with all the fans in the stadium,” Ansarifard added.
“I believe it’s going to be a very hard game. Of course, Japan also want to advance to the final. Having said that, we will use all our might and strength to make it happen, so that the team which advances to the final is Iran,” he concluded.