Alireza Jahanbakhsh believes the Islamic Republic of Iran’s careful study of Syria’s earlier matches will help the Central Asian side when the two teams meet in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ Round of 16 at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium on Wednesday.

Iran were at their best in the group stage, achieving a perfect record of three wins while Syria earned a historic first ever spot in the knockout stage as one of the top four third-placed teams.

Jahanbakhsh, however, is adamant that Iran will not underestimate Syria despite being ranked 70 places higher than their West Asian opponents, 

“We are trying our best to fulfill our dreams in this tournament. Syria will be a very difficult opponent as they are a physically strong side and have conceded only one goal in the group stage (against Australia),” said the midfielder, who plies his trade for Dutch side Feyenoord.

 “We are aware of how strong Syria are defensively, but we watched their games carefully and after studying them well, we are ready to face them, both tactically and physically.” 

The Round of 16 of the continental showpiece has already witnessed upsets, with debutants Tajikistan stunning the United Arab Emirates and Jordan prevailing over Iraq, results which Jahanbakhsh has taken note of. 

“We demonstrated our strength and confidence in the group stage but the biggest difference now is that we cannot make a single mistake as even the smallest error can get you eliminated,” said the 30-year-old.

“We will have to show all of our strong qualities and follow the instructions of the coaching staff. In many of the earlier games in the competition, we have seen how one mistake can change the course of the game, which is something we will remember.”

BY: Nadeem Faisal Baiga