AFC Asian Cup 2023 semifinal preview: Iran vs Qatar

When Qatar plays Iran in the semifinals on Wednesday, coach Tintin Marquez Lopez thinks his team will be put to the “toughest test” in their pursuit of the Asian Cup title.

The Spaniard has lamented the passing of time since the Maroons’ thrilling quarterfinal triumph over Uzbekistan on Saturday, which came after extra time and penalties.

“It was a very short time if we speak about preparation for the game,” he remarked. We had an only two days to get ready.
“For us, this will be the hardest match of the tournament.”

AFC Asian Cup semifinal preview: Iran vs Qatar

Qatar won the 2019 season without losing a game, and they haven’t lost yet in this one. In fact, their first loss in a regular-time encounter during the 2023 tournament came from a draw with Uzbekistan in extra time.

After being listed as a replacement in Qatar’s 2-1 round of 16 victory over Palestine, Tarek Salman returned the defense in the quarterfinals.

The defender shared his manager’s observations that players who participated in Uzbekistan’s victory are feeling worn out and that the recovery period is an issue. But he thinks the team can win because of the occasion. Salman stated, “Everyone is excited; it will be physical against Iran.”
They have stars that compete in Europe’s top leagues, so we are quite motivated.

Meanwhile, Saeid Ezatolahi of Iran, a midfielder, has expressed scepticism on the AFC’s decision to select an Arab referee for their Asian Cup semifinal matchup against the hosts and reigning champions.
Ahmad Al-Ali of Kuwait will referee the semifinal on Wednesday. He has overseen two group matches and a tournament last-16 tie.

The fact that the match’s referee is an Arab from Kuwait surprises us a little bit, Ezatolahi told reporters on Tuesday.
We simply want to know how it’s conceivable that an Arab was assigned to officiate the game.

“However, we are a very large team—the Iran national team. We are a professional team with very good players.

Iran advanced to the semifinals by defeating Japan, the top-seeded team in Asia, 2-1, despite having only two days to recover from their extra-time and penalty-filled last-16 match against Syria.
Similar to Tarek and Lopez, Ezatolahi has criticized the knockout stage’s short recuperation period.

“The players in this tournament, especially in the knockout stage, didn’t have enough time to recover,” he stated.
“A lot of the players are under a lot of pressure here; many came directly from their clubs.”

AFC Asian Cup semifinal

Amir Ghalenoei, the Iran coach, emphasized that his team would have “less than 72 hours” of rest before playing Japan. He also took a jab at the video assistant referee (VAR).

“I can say that, at least in this tournament, VAR did not treat us very well. We had a circumstance during the match against Japan where Sardar Azmoun may have received a penalty, but VAR failed to investigate it for us, the player stated.
“But we need to be more resilient than everything that is taking place during this tournament.”

Iran defeated Qatar 4-0 in October, but Ghalenoei challenged his team to get past their past performance in order to secure a spot for their first final since winning their third championship in 1976.

“Quatar demonstrated their quality when they advanced to the semifinals, therefore we must forget both our performance against Japan and our outcome against Qatar. That is now part of history, he declared.
“Compared to the encounter against Japan, we need to demonstrate greater quality and cover more ground. I hope that, after over 50 years, we can make it to the final. I think highly of our players.

Iran finished the group stage with three victories in a row, but in the round of sixteen, they had to battle it out against Syria in a 5-3 penalty shootout after the game was locked 1-1 after extra time. Their greatest performance of the competition this year came when they defeated Japan 2-1 in the quarterfinals.

Additionally, Qatar won all three of their group matches before overcoming Palestine 2-1 in the round of 16. After it was tied 1-1 at the end of extra time, they had to battle hard to defeat Uzbekistan 3-2 on penalties.

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