DOHA - Iran have been hit by a flu
outbreak at the Asian Cup ahead of their Group D clash with
North Korea, with coach Afshin Ghotbi and captain Javad Nekonam
among those affected.
"We have a few issues with some players in our squad with a
minor flu," Ghotbi told reporters on Friday before they face the
Koreans at the Qatar Sports Club on Saturday.
"It started really with the beginning of our training camp
with our captain, then I had the flu for several days and it has
gone through two, three, up to four players at a time."
Victory for Iran would book a place
in the quarter-finals of the 16-team premier Asian tournament
but they face the tricky task of breaking down a
defensive-minded North Korean side.
The Koreans have not conceded a goal in their last three
outings and have reverted back to a 'defensive first, attack
second' strategy after being humbled 7-0 by Portugal in the
World Cup finals in South Africa last June.
"I hope North Korea plays like they did against Portugal in
the World Cup when they were open and attacked," Ghotbi said.
"But I think they will play very closed and attempt to
counter attack which is why it is important we score early to
bring them out of their shell."
Three-times champions Iran will start as favourites for
Saturday's match following their comeback victory over holders
Iraq in their opening game but Ghotbi said there was little time
to bask in the adulation of victory over their rivals.
"To be champions of a tournament you have to play six
matches in 18 days and it takes a lot of mental toughness,
discipline and quality to be able to recover."
"We tried to enjoy the victory (over Iraq) in the first 24
hours and immediately we started focusing on the next match.
"I think our players are up for the challenge of playing
North Korea and realise by gaining the three points they can
reach the first target of getting out of the group."
The Koreans were fortunate to claim a 0-0 draw with the
United Arab Emirates in their opening match and will need a big
improvement if they are to beat Team Melli for the first time at
their 17th attempt.
"We played one match against UAE and our analysis was we
didn't play well in the first match, 0-0 was not our expectation
and we will try to do better for the next two matches," North
Korean coach Jo Tong-sop said.
"The UAE team played with good individual skill and we tried
to put more emphasis on the defense."
Iraq will play the United Arab Emirates at the Al Rayyan
Stadium also in Group D on Saturday.
Bayern overcome heartbreak of losing two finals in three seasons by beating Dortmund 2-1
Decision not to send off Bayern Munich defender Dante rankles with upbeat Dortmund boss
Heynckes becomes only the fourth manager to win the European Cup with two different teams
Dortmund striker could soon join German rivals and newly-crowned Champions League winners
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010