Meet the Head Coaches: Groups A, B & C

Kuala Lumpur: The AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ will be as much about the head coaches as they will be about the Continent’s best players.

With just over two weeks to go before the Continental showpiece kicks off with hosts Qatar taking on Lebanon in the tournament opener, takes a look at the 24 tacticians who will lead the Continent’s best in what promises to be another thrilling edition of the AFC Asian Cup.

There will be new faces in charge as several teams, including four of the six Asian teams who featured in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, will have new head coaches.

We take a look at the head coaches of Groups A, B and C.

Group A
Hosts and defending champions Qatar have undergone a last minute change in the dugout following the departure of Carlos Queiroz with the Portuguese being replaced by 61-year-old Tintin Marquez, who left his post with Qatar Stars League side Al Wakrah to fill the role.

The Spaniard will go head-to-head with another recent arrival in his team’s opening game, when Qatar face Lebanon in the tournament opener with the Cedars now led by Montenegrin head coach Miodrag Radulovic.

Radulovic was appointed in December to replace Nikola Jurcevic and joins the Lebanese for a second stint having been in charge during the country’s appearance at the last AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

China PR will be led by Serbia’s Aleksandar Jankovic, who made the step up to the senior team in 2022 after initially working with the country’s youth teams. He previously coached Red Star Belgrade in his native Serbia as well as Belgian clubs Mechelen and Standard Liege.

Petar Segrt adds to the Eastern European flavour in Group A as he helms Tajikistan’s challenge for a place in the knockout rounds, the Croatian continuing his career in Asia after stints with Afghanistan and the Maldives as well as in club football in Indonesia.

Group B
Graham Arnold returns to the AFC Asian Cup for a third crack at the title after leading Australia to the quarter-finals in both 2007 and 2019. 

The former Sydney FC head coach was retained by Football Australia having steered the Socceroos to the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and he will be in typically confident mood ahead of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023.

Former Sampdoria defender Srecko Katanec will be in charge of Uzbekistan at the AFC Asian Cup for the first time as he continues his career in the continent having worked in the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, who he led to the last 16 of the 2019 Finals.

Hector Cuper (pictured above) was in charge of Uzbekistan at the last AFC Asian Cup and the vastly experienced Argentinian, who previously coached in La Liga with Valencia and also led Egypt, returns in Qatar at the helm of Syria having been appointed in February.

The coaching line-up in Group B is rounded out by Igor Stimac, who brings India to the Finals after stints with his native Croatia as well as Iranian club side Sepahan and Al Shahania in Qatar.

Group C
Amir Ghalenoei (pictured below) returned to take charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the second time in the aftermath of the country’s involvement in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the former Esteghlal coach will be eager to improve on his previous performance at the tournament.

Ghalenoei was in charge of Team Melli in 2007 when the Iranians crashed out in the quarter-finals in a penalty shoot-out against Korea Republic.

Paulo Bento also renews his acquaintance with the AFC Asian Cup, this time with the United Arab Emirates after leading Korea Republic to the last eight in 2019. 

The Portuguese took over in the UAE in July having parted company with the Koreans, who he steered to the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

ong Kong, China will be led by Jorn Andersen (pictured above) with the Norwegian making his first appearance on the touchline at the AFC Asian Cup. He successfully guided DPR Korea through the preliminaries for the 2019 Finals but resigned after qualification was assured.

Tunisia’s Makram Daboub completes the line-up in Group C with the former goalkeeper due to take charge of Palestine at the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since his appointment to the post back in 2021.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga