The second semi-final of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 tournament takes place on Wednesday when we find out who will take on Jordan in the final. Two Asian powerhouses battle it out as Iran take on the defending champions Qatar.
Both these teams have gone through the tournament unbeaten and would certainly have began the competition with expectations of winning the title, that would be historic for Qatar to defend the title on home soil, while Iran will be out to show they are the pick of the Asian nations.
If you only watch football teams from this part of the world when it gets to the World Cup you could be forgiven for thinking that Iran are a defence based outfit who offer little moving forward. That was largely under Carlos Quieroz though and since his departure they have actually been a modernised side who now go after teams and it will be interesting to see if they continue to do that in a match of this magnitude or whether they go into their shells a little bit.
Iran haven’t had the easiest route through to this semi-final because they were the ones who had the misfortune of running into Japan in the blockbuster quarter final which was always on the cards once the Japanese failed to win their group. They came through that though and having done so you would imagine they will carry plenty of confidence into this match with them, especially as they have Mehdi Taremi back from suspension for the game.
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The tournament hosts and defending champions Qatar have made it through to this semi-final in easier fashion in terms of who they have faced but they have still had to come through a penalty shootout against Uzbekistan to make it into this semi-final. To be fair to Qatar they have used home advantage to their benefit so far and the big thing for them is that they have looked much better in this tournament than they did at any stage of the World Cup.
Qatar opened up their campaign in dominant fashion but the longer it has gone on the more they have struggled to put opponents away. By virtue of being the host nation they elevated themselves to pot one for the group stage so their opposition so far in this tournament has been of a lower level so this is their toughest test of the event to date. Qatar will be hoping that them needing extra time and penalties to make it through the last round doesn’t catch up with them.
After a winner in the opening semi-final I am hoping to follow up with another here. Iran have an incredible record against Qatar which is interesting. They are undefeated in the last 10 meetings between the two sides with Qatar having not beaten Iran since December 2009. Qatar are made of better stuff these days though and with home advantage and the opportunity to go into the final as comfortable favourites I expect more of a fight from the home side.
I mentioned above that Iran are no longer this sit back and absorb pressure side that they were under Carlos Quieroz and actually they play on the front foot which can bring danger with it, as evidenced by the fact that they haven’t kept a clean sheet in the tournament yet. Qatar have kept three but they were all against vastly inferior opposition. I actually think these two sides will have a go here. If you had told either of them that they could face Jordan in the final at the beginning of the tournament they would do everything they could to claim that. That is exactly what I expect them to do so I like over 2 goals here. Both of these teams have goals in them and I expect them to go and grab this title from here so I think we get a full payout on this line.
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