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Asian Cup knockout stage kicks off today; Bahrain gear up for Korea clash

Sun, 20 Jan 2019
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BAHRAIN last night stepped up their preparations for Tuesday’s Asian Cup last 16 clash against South Korea to be held in Dubai, starting 4pm Bahrain time.

The team held an extensive training session at Al Wasl Club in Dubai supervised by coach Miroslav Soukup.

Meanwhile, a technical meeting and a press conference will be held tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the knockout stage begins today with three matches.

Today, former champions Iran take on Oman at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi for the right to play China or Thailand in the last eight.

Team Melli cruised through their group unbeaten and should make light work of Pim Verbeek’s Oman, who progressed as one of the best third-placed teams by virtue of a sole win over Turkmenistan.

“The real Asian Cup starts now,” coach Carlos Queiroz told a news conference yesterday.

“It is everything for the winner, nothing for the losers. There is no room for mistakes, no room for regrets, there is no room for sorry, no room for tomorrow. It is just here and now.

“Ninety minutes trying to play the best football you can, and with good inspiration and great character trying to be the best team on the pitch.”

Iran’s clash with Oman is the second match today as the Chinese take on Thailand in Al Ain in the late afternoon after Jordan battle it out with Vietnam in Dubai for the first spot in the quarter-finals.

Jordan’s victory over Australia in their first match was the biggest shock of the tournament so far and they went through ahead of the reigning champions as the winners of Group ‘B’.

That has given coach Vital Borkelmans huge belief that they can reach a quarter-final against either four-times champions Japan or three-times winners Saudi Arabia, who meet tomorrow.

“These guys, they are so amazing, I learned a lot of things about these guys,” the Belgian said of his in-form side.

“I have given them a lot of confidence. They must believe in the skills they have and they must help each other.”

Vietnam squeaked into the knockout stages by virtue of a better disciplinary record than Lebanon but coach Park Hang-seo has developed something of a Midas touch and another night of celebration in Hanoi is not out of the question.

Football-inspired celebrations in China have been few and far between since they lost the 2004 Asian Cup final to Japan in Beijing and Marcello Lippi’s team stumbled into the last 16 after a 2-0 loss to South Korea.

The Italian World Cup winner confirmed yesterday that prolific striker Wu Lei would be fit to start after missing the Korea match with a shoulder injury but was wary of the Thais.

“They changed the coach after the first match they played and they changed the tactics and basic formation,” he said.

“But what is important is they have changed their attitude. They are very aggressive. They play at a high intensity and we have to be careful, smart and ready.”

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