PETALING JAYA: Iran flew in Monday declaring that they are the better side than Malaysia and will win the pre-Olympic Asian Finals Group A match at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya here tomorrow.
Coach Mohammad Mayel Kohan said that they were well-prepared for the Under-23 tournament and that their only worry was the weather.
“It is very humid here and this could be a problem for us. But we are the better side and will win the match on Wednesday,” he said.
Iran have in their side 13 players who won the gold medal in the 2002 Busan Asian Games.
The Iranians made it to the final stage of the Asian qualifying tournament by defeating Uzbekistan 9-2 on aggregate in the second round. Malaysia, on the other hand, walked in – thanks to the withdrawal of Turkmenistan.
Iran boast of having strong and skilful strikers in Eman Mobali, Hoessein Kabei, Moharram Navidikia, Arash Borhani and Javad Kamenyen.
Moharram was voted as the Iranian Player of the Year for 2003.
The Iranians have been in training together for the past two months and they have played two friendly matches. They defeated the Singapore national team 3-2 and drew 1-1 with the Japan Under-23 team last month.
Meanwhile, Malaysian coach Allan Harris will have to drop 11 players when he names his side today for the match against Iran.
Of the 29 players in training, three defenders will definitely be out. They are Norhafiz Zamani Misbah, Yusri Derma Raju and Marzuki Yusof.
Yosri and Marzuki are carrying knee injuries while Norhafiz lacks match fitness after a foot injury sustained in the Vietnam SEA Games last December kept him out of action.
“With three players out in defence, it will be tough for us. We will just have to do with a make-shift defence against Iran,” said Harris.
He is now left with two defenders in the team – Irwan Fadli and Ronny Harun.
Syamsuri Mustaffa looks certain to be retained as the first-choice goalkeeper and the other place in the team is a toss-up between Faizal Rashid and Mohamed Al Hafiz Hamzah.
Said Al Hafiz: “I think I did well in training and I deserve a place in the team. I will be hoping for the best.”
The other teams in Group A of the pre-Olympics are South Korea and China and they will be up against each other in Seoul tomorrow.