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Preview MD3 - Group C: China PR vs IR Iran

Songkhla: Islamic Republic of Iran may look to utilise fresh legs, as they fight to keep their AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 campaign alive against China PR at Tinsulanon Stadium on Wednesday.

The knockout stage has come early for Iran, who must beat China - and hope Uzbekistan lose to Korea Republic in Pathum Thani - to have any chance of reaching the last eight of the competition.

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A tally of one point from two matches – a 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan and a 2-1 defeat to Korea Republic – has given head coach Hamid Estili plenty to consider ahead of the clash with a Chinese side which has already been eliminated, and the former Persepolis star believes his team’s salvation may come from a rotated starting line-up.

‘It’s the most important match for us,” said Estili. “If we want to stay here and qualify for the second round, we need to win this game. We have no other choice.”

“Between two matches we have just three days, and maybe our players were a little tired, but you need 23 ready players for this competition. For the last match, Korea Republic changed many players and had a really ready team, but my players were tired in the second half.

“In this situation, we will try to use players who are not tired and can help us. It’s really important that we have enough running power throughout the match.

“We will do our best to win using the players we have who are physically ready to face China.”

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group C: IR Iran 1-2 Korea Republic

Ensuring his side are mentally ready is also on Estili’s agenda.

Team Melli Omid have shown glimpses of quality in both their matches so far at Thailand 2020, but what is becoming a habitual dip in quality late in the first half of matches has hurt them, and Estili is eager for his side to deliver a full 90-minute performance against China.

“In both matches so far, some of players forgot the rules (of the team) and it was big problem for us,” he said. “But, in both matches, we made changes and played a lot better in the second half.

“I think it’s a problem we need to fix. We have some young players and it’s very difficult to come from behind in a match, especially if you have conceded two goals, in a difficult competition like this.”

Meanwhile, China PR will look to bid farewell to Thailand 2020 by gaining their first points of the competition, after their hopes of a knockout stage berth were dashed by Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Uzbekistan.

The loss of main striker Zhang Yuning continues to linger over the Chinese squad, who struggled to create opportunities against the defending champions, and would have suffered a heavier defeat had it not been for a Chen Wei penalty save.

#AFCU23 - MD2 Group C: China PR 0-2 Uzbekistan

Hao admits his side is struggling to overcome the absence of Zhang, but the former national team defender said he will select a balanced side to face Iran.

“The loss of the striker has given me a lot of difficulties when making my tactics,” Hao admitted.

“As coaches, we focus on the overall balance of the game. Against Uzbekistan, I planned to switch one of the full-backs on the right, because the opponent was playing very strongly on that side, but I analysed the game and decided not to make any switch in order to maintain the balance.

“I hope in the next game we can improve and be better.”

China PR v Islamic Republic of Iran
Venue: Tinsulanon Stadium (Songkhla)
Kick-off: 17:15 (UTC +7)

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