Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Iran, China looking for three points and quarter-finals spot


Zhu Guanghu's Chinese lineup know their 5-1 win over Malaysia will count for little when they take on Iran in an Asian Cup match likely to decide top place in Group C.

Energized by victories in their opening matches, China and Iran are aiming for three more points today that would propel one of them into the quarter-finals.

Zhu said beating three-time champions Iran would require a completely new strategy, focussed on shutting down the Iranian attack on the right flank.

"Iran are definitely the strongest team in the group," Zhu said. "We need to forget our last match and count down to this next one."

To do that, the 2004 Asian Cup finalists will have to adapt quickly in real time to counter Iran.

Iran opened with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan on Wednesday, when coach Amir Ghalenoei earned a one-match ban from the sidelines for throwing a bottle.

Ghalenoei said Iran expect a tough time against the speedy and well-organized Chinese, but thinks his team will be a lot harder to handle than Malaysia were in the Group C opener.

"I did not see Malaysia put pressure on China's defensive line," Ghalenoei said.

Iran were not at their best against Uzbekistan, but their senior players rose a level when it counted.

Iran midfielder Ali Karimi was among them. He said it took a while to adjust not only to the climate but also to the pitch.

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