Quarter-final Preview: IR Iran v Thailand
Taipei: Head coach Jose Maria Pazos believes Thailand have every reason to be confident going up against defending champions Islamic Republic of Iran, after their convincing win over Kyrgyz Republic on Matchday Three of the AFC Futsal Championship 2018.
Iran not only maintained a 100 percent record but only conceded four goals to claim top spot in Group C, while Thailand opened their campaign with a 5-1 win over Jordan, suffered a 5-2 loss to Lebanon but bounced back to beat Kyrgyz Republic 8-1 to finish second on Group D.
Maria Pazos acknowledged the challenge but believed that his side have regained the confidence and momentum after their comprehensive win over Kyrgyz Republic, saying: “We all know that Iran are one of the best in the world. And If they play their best tomorrow, it’s going to be difficult, but we will try our best to make it difficult for them too.
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“Nobody here wants to face Iran in the quarter-finals, but if you want to be champions, you have to face them eventually.
"It’s not the game we wanted to play in the quarter-finals, but because we didn’t perform well enough in the group stage, we are here.
“I hope that our victory (against Kyrgyz Republic), and the way we won will give us confidence to face this big challenge.
“The level they (Iran) have is incredible, but if we continue to play the same way we did yesterday, I know we can do it.”
Iran head coach Mohammed Nazemasharieh respects the Thai team, recognising them as the ASEAN champions but believes his players focus will make the difference.
“We have passed the first stage of the qualification, and while we did our best in the group stage, we have Thailand ahead now,” said Nazemasharieh.
“This shouldn’t have happened like this, but in a continental tournament, anything can happen but we respect every team who have reached this far into the tournament, knowing how strong and what they are capable of.
“But the main thing for us is concentration, and if our players have that, they are going to perform beautifully, and we are aiming to play with full concentration against one of the strongest opponents.”
Thursday’s quarter-final will be at the Xinzhuang Stadium.