Asian Cup 2019: 3 reasons why Iran could win the title
Being at the forefront of Asian football for a long time, it is hard to assimilate that Iran has never won the AFC Asian Cup since 1976.
The Asian Cup title has been elusive to Iran in the recent past. They perform brilliantly in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers but, when it comes to the continental extravaganza, they falter. In the last three editions, they bowed out in the quarter-finals losing to South Korea in 2007 and 2011 and their arch-rivals Iraq in 2015.
With defensive midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi missing the tournament owing to a foot injury, Majid Hosseini is expected to play a key role. Sardar Azmoun is another player to watch out for. The 23-year-old is a quality forward with plenty of European experience. In Carlos Queiroz, they have a coach with a lot of international experience.
Without much ado, we take a look at the 3 reasons why Iran could win the title.
#3 The highest ranked team in the tournament
The FIFA rankings are a rough estimate of the team's capabilities. Although some countries have climbed their way up the ladder by playing matches with lower-ranked nations, the FIFA rankings are definitely an indicator of a team's quality.
Iran is the highest ranked team heading into the tournament which makes them an automatic favourite to lift the trophy. Team Melli are ranked 29 with no other team even being in the top 40.
Australia is the second-highest ranked team in the AFC Asian Cup, sitting 41st on the totem pole. Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia follow them with 50th, 53rd, and 69th position in the rankings.
Iran's rise in the FIFA rankings is because of a good 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualification campaigns. This very fact should give a huge morale boost to the team.