CANBERRA (AFP) – Bitter rivals Iran and Iraq square off in a potentially explosive Asian Cup quarter-final in Canberra on Friday with the coaches of both teams urging players to keep their emotions in check.
There has been little love lost between the neighbours over the years, Iran frequently coming out on top — winning the continental tournament three times to Iraq’s solitary title.
The prize is a semi-final with South Korea or Uzbekistan as Iran bid to end an Asian Cup drought stretching back to 1976, and Iraq a repeat their improbable triumph of 2007.
With the stakes so high, Iraq coach Radhi Shenaishil and Iran boss Carlos Queiroz said the key to victory would be cool heads — not blood and thunder. “Of course there is history between the two teams,” said Shenaishil, on loan for the Asian Cup from Qatar Sports Club.
“But I want to see a quality match, not powerful tackles. In the quarter-finals we want to give the right impression of football in Asia.
“The coaching staff will be telling players to forget about emotions,” he added. “On the day they are there to do their duty and the team that can produce on the day will get the win.”