The Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa is set to witness a gripping encounter tonight as Bahrain take on Iran in the second round Group C clash of the Fifa World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 joint qualification.
The match kicks off at 7.30pm.
Coach Helio Souza said Bahrain are not overawed by the prospect of taking on one of the strongest football teams in Asia.
“Iran are the best in Asia and a tough team to beat,” said Souza during a Press conference at the Bahrain National Stadium yesterday. “However, we have the right players and an effective strategy to counter the Iranian threat.”
“We have had some successful matches in the past and we want to keep going. Tomorrow we hope to put up a fine performance in front of our fans,” he said.
“The players are gearing up to deliver their best. It’s time to take a step forward and do our best to beat Iran. We are in the best shape to fight them.”
Speaking about Ismail Abdullatif, the ace striker who was present at the Press conference, Souza said” “He’s an amazing player who is invaluable in pressure situations. His experience is of great value to the entire team.”
Abdullatif exuded confidence ahead of the important clash. “We will have a huge crowd support tomorrow and we consider our fans as the number one player of the team. Besides, we are confident as a team of defeating any opposition, so there’s no stopping us,” said Abdullatif.
Iran, who are in Bahrain after routing Cambodia 14-0 in the qualifier last week, sounded a note of caution nevertheless.
“Yes, it was a commanding win against Cambodia last week, but tomorrow we are against a far tougher team,” said Iran coach Marc Wilmots.
“Bahrain have had some great matches in the past few months and they are always a threat, especially at home.
“However, we will do everything we can to seal a victory away from home.”
Iran lead the Group C standings after having defeated and Cambodia and Hong Kong in the two matches they have played so far. Iraq are second and Bahrain third with four points each from two games. Bahrain edged Cambodia 1-0 and held Iraq 1-1 last month while Iraq defeated Hong Kong 2-0.
The winners of the eight groups and the best four runners-up will qualify for the next group phase.
Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, His Majesty the King for Charity Works and Youth Affairs representative, and Supreme Council for Youth and Sports chairman, visited Bahrain players’ training session yesterday along with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Bahrain Football Association (BFA) president Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.