Ghotbi: We will win Asian Cup

Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi declared today that his side would win the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 1976, striking a bullish tone ahead of the clash with old foes and current holders Iraq.

"Iran are going to end their 35-year title drought," said Ghotbi, who is under pressure back home to lead Iran to their fourth Asian Cup title. "For a country like Iran, with such a history, we always aim to win the championship. In my opinion Iran is a quality team who can win the tournament. We will prepare for our opening match against Iraq and we will qualify for the knockout stages."

Iran are going to end their 35-year title drought.
Afshin Ghotbi, Iran coach

Iran, knocked out in the quarter-finals four years ago, face defending champions Iraq on Tuesday in a tight-looking Group D that also includes 2010 FIFA World Cup™ participants Korea DPR and an emerging United Arab Emirates.

"Iraq are the defending champions but we defeated them in the West Asian Championship about six months ago," said Ghotbi. "It will be tricky but we can beat them again. North Korea make life difficult for all the teams. Remember them against Brazil in the World Cup? And UAE might be the tournament's dark horses."

The Koreans, who are likely to be stubborn in defence and play on the break, narrowly lost 2-1 to Brazil in South Africa before getting hammered 7-0 by Portugal.

UAE are rated the rank outsiders in the group. They take on Korea DPR on Tuesday.