Iranians prepare for AFC U-19 event
Iranian coach Peyrovani says Singapore tournament a final tune-up for October mission
FAS U-21 INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE CUP
IRAN v UZBEKISTAN
(Today, 5pm, Bishan Stadium)
They are perennial continental powerhouses.
With three Asian Cups (1968, 1972 and 1976) and four World Cup appearances (1978, 1998, 2006 and 2014) under their belt, Iran have a glittering football history.
And Singapore fans will be able to watch the next generation of the country's national players in action starting today, when Iran's Under-21 side take on their Uzbek counterparts in the opening match of the inaugural Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Under-21 International Challenge Cup at the Bishan Stadium.
Iran head coach Amir Hossein Peyrovani wants his team to use the Challenge Cup as preparation for the next round of the Asian Football Confederation Under-19 Championship, which will take place in Bahrain in October.
Speaking to The New Paper after the team's training session at the Bishan Stadium last night, Peyrovani said: "Four months ago, the coach (Richard Tardy) of Singapore came to Iran for two friendly matches.
"During the time he was there, he invited our team to take part in this tournament (Challenge Cup) and I thought this would be a good opportunity for the players to prepare before they go to Bahrain in October.
"We will be challenging Yemen, Qatar and Japan, who are difficult teams, and, by taking on sides like Uzbekistan and either Singapore or Hong Kong, it will prepare us better for the upcoming tournament."
Iran have been drawn in Group C of the Under-19 tournament and face tough opponents in Yemen, Qatar and Japan for a place in the quarter-finals. Semi-finalists in the competition are guaranteed a spot in the 2017 Under-20 World Cup in South Korea.
"Our first match (today) against Uzbekistan will be very tough, because they are also one of the best teams in Asia in terms of transition and attack, and hopefully we can get a good result.
"I am really happy that our team have a chance to take part in this competition, because it gives us a chance to prepare ourselves," Peyrovani added.
Iran's senior team gave a good account of themselves at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago, producing positive displays against Nigeria (0-0), Bosnia-Herzegovina (3-1 loss) and a Lionel Messi-led Argentina (1-0 loss), who lost to Germany in the final.
The senior team are once again in the final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Peyrovani believes the country can do even better, if they get there.
And he tipped some of the players in his squad to transit into the senior side in two years' time
"Why not... We did well two years ago," said the 46-year-old.
"We are managed by (Carlos) Queiroz, who is one of the top football minds in the world.
"Our players are good technically and mentally, and we showed in Brazil that we can compete against top teams in the world like Argentina, so I say we can do better at future World Cups.
"Our young players in this squad are also good enough and I will not be surprised to see some of them playing with the senior team in a few years' time."