Portuguese coaches Paulo Bento, ahead of South Korea, and Carlos Queiroz, Iran coach, will look to win the 17th edition of the Asian Football Cup, which starts on Saturday in the United Arab Emirates.
Defeated by Australia in the final of the last tournament in 2015, the South Koreans will want to win a title they won twice in the first two editions in 1957 and 1960, adding four lost finals (1972, 1980, 1988 and 2015) , in addition to four other third places (1964, 2000, 2007 and 2011).
At the age of 49, Paulo Bento faces the third final phase as a selector: with Portugal, he reached the Euro2012 semi-finals and fell in the group stage of the World Cup in 2014, having trained Cruzeiro (Brazil), Olympiacos (Greece) and Chongqing Lifan (China) ) until arriving in South Korea in August 2018.
In Group C, the Portuguese coach will face China, coached by Marcello Lippi, world champion with Italy in 2006, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines, led by former Benfica coach Sven Goran Eriksson of Sweden.
The South Koreans’ star is Tottenham Son Heung-min striker, who has Ki Sung-Yueng (Newcastle) or Ji Dong-won (Augsburg).
In Iran, Carlos Queiroz has developed a long-term project, taking over the team in 2011 and taking the Iranians to the World Cup in 2014, losing in the group stage to the Asian Cup of 2015, losing in the quarterfinals and to the World Cup in who played against Portugal and returned to stay in the group stage.
Before that, he had taken Portugal to the ‘octaves’ of the 2010 World Cup, losing to eventual champions Spain, leaving shortly after the poor results in qualifying for Euro2012, when he was replaced by Paulo Bento.
In the ‘poule’ D, the Iranians will face Iraq, which has the Santa Clara captain Osama Rashid among the squad, as well as Vietnam Yemen, and the goalkeeper of the Amir Abedzadeh is one of the options. Queiroz.
Rubin Kazan’s Sardar Azmoun striker is one of the 65-year-old striker’s most important weapons in an attack with Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton) and Karim Ansarifard (Nottingham Forest).
Iran is looking for a fourth triumph in qualifying, which would allow them to match Japan after victories in 1968, 1972 and 1976, never losing any final and still having four third places in 1964, 2000, 2007 and 2011.
Australia and Japan, with Portimonense striker Shoya Nakajima, are the main candidates for the trophy, along with the South Koreans, with the Japanese being the country with the most titles, four, and the Australians the champions in the title.
Another team with ambitions in the race, which starts on January 4 and extends until February 1, is Qatar, which intends to show credentials on the way to the World Cup in2222, which will receive, and has Portuguese naturalized Pedro Correia in defence.
The event also has another ‘appetizer’, as the winner qualifies for the Confederations Cup of 2021, which would be received by Qatar, but after being revoked these rights will be held in a country of the Asian Confederation (AFC), for the that if the winner is also the host of that tournament, the runner-up finisher will occupy a second place.