Iranian winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh has boldly declared Iran is one of the favourites to win the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Jahanbakhsh is one of the brightest talents to emerge for Iran in recent times, impressing many in Holland with his performances for NEC.
Speaking ahead of Iran’s friendly with South Korea in Tehran, Jahanbakhsh said Iran would take confidence from their 2014 FIFA World Cup performances.
“After a good performance in the 2014 World Cup, I think we have a chance to win the AFC Asian Cup. Iran is a favourite to win the tournament. We are ready to make our people happy,” the 21-year-old said.
The Dutch-based winger has conceded, however, that his side need more warm up matches before the tournament begins. Iran has traditionally found it difficult to schedule friendly matches, the match against Korea being their first since the World Cup.
“We need more warm-up matches to get ready for the Asian Cup. Our rivals have played so many friendlies so far,” he said.
The match against South Korea at the Azadi Stadium on Tuesday night, officially Iran’s last before the Asian Cup kicks off, will be a good test for Team Melli and give coach Carlos Queiroz an indication of how his team is situated ahead of the Asian Cup.
There is speculation that Iran will face Iraq in Sydney before the Asian Cup, although as yet nothing has been confirmed.
Iran has been drawn in Group C alongside UAE, Qatar and Bahrain and begin their quest for their first Asian Cup crown since 1976 in Melbourne on 11 January against Bahrain.