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Sombre Dejagah laments IR Iran's exit

Al Ain: Veteran Islamic Republic of Iran midfielder Ashkan Dejagah cut a disconsolate figure after his side were eliminated from AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the semi-final stage by a 3-0 defeat to Japan on Monday.

Appearing in the final four for the first time in 15 years, Team Melli held their own in a competitive first-half, but never recovered from the concession of Yuya Osako's opening goal, with Japan taking full control and ultimately cruising into Friday's final.

It was a forgettable conclusion to an Iranian campaign which had promised so much, but ended, once again, in knockout stage disappointment.

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"I believe it was a good tournament for the players and, for the young players, it’s been a good experience," said former Bundesliga and Premier League star Dejagah.

"We performed well until this game. Even in this game, before we conceded, the team was performing well.

"Obviously, Japan are a good team. They put pressure on us, they wanted to go to the final as well, but if we had a little luck, if Sardar (Azmoun's) opportunity was converted into a goal in the first half, maybe the outcome of the game would have changed.

"But this is football, unfortunately we couldn’t do it today."


Semi-final: IR Iran vs Japan

While Carlos Queiroz's side had a number of potent attacking weapons on the pitch at Hazza bin Zayed's Stadium, they missed the creativity of suspended forward Mehdi Taremi, and Dejagah conceded the Al Gharafa forward's absence had made life difficult.

"Well, we have good players. I believe the whole team can play well," said the Iranian skipper.

"However, obviously Taremi’s absence affected us. He really helped us out in the last couple of games."

With four wins, no defeats and five clean sheets in their opening five matches, Iran were one of the AFC Asian Cup's form teams, leading many to fans to dream of an end to their 43-year Asian title drought.

But, with those dreams unfulfilled, Dejagah, who will be 36 when the next AFC Asian Cup is held in 2023, said the result would take time to get over.

"We win together and we lose together. Unfortunately, today we couldn’t [win]. Nevertheless, thanks to the team for trying," he offered.

"It’s hard to talk right now. I have nothing to say. Some time must pass, it’s hard."

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