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Wilmots sets top spot target for IR Iran

Kuala Lumpur: Head coach Marc Wilmots has described the Asian Qualifiers draw as not easy but Islamic Republic of Iran's target will be to win the group.

Iran, Asia's top ranked team, were drawn in Group C for Round Two of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Joint Qualifiers.

Team Melli will have to get past Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia to advance to the third round, which will not only take them a step closer to a third consecutive FIFA World Cup Finals appearance but also seal them a place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.

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Despite Iran's status as the Continent's top side, Wilmots said he expects a tough route for his team.

“First of all, I should say that this is not an easy draw for Team Melli,” said Wilmots to the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran website.

"We can certainly expect our rivals to produce their best and the competition will be of a very high level."

Wilmots, who replaced Carlos Queiroz as head coach following the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, said there isn't one particular team that poses more danger than the rest.

"We respect all teams and all will be equally tough.

"However, we only have one aim and that is constantly striving to win the group.”

The former Belgium and Ivory Coast head coach signed with Iran in May and has already had a glimpse of his team's capabilities as the Central Asians played Syria and Korea Republic in international friendlies in June.

A 5-0 win over Syria was followed with a 1-1 draw with Korea Republic and Wilmots was excited with the talent at his disposal, having said then that he was looking to take Iran to the next level.

Semi-finalists at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, Iran also impressed in the 2018 FIFA World Cup where they narrowly missed out on a place in the knockout stage after defeating Morocco 1-0 and holding European champions Portugal to a 1-1 draw.

Iran will open their Asian Qualifiers campaign with an away match against Hong Kong on September 10.

Photos: AFP, AFC

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