Iran coach Ali Daei has vowed his team will claim a much-needed win over Saudi Arabia in a key Asia Zone 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier.
Iran's Team Melli, seeking a fourth appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals, are languishing in third place in Group B with six points from four games, two behind South Korea and one behind Korea DPR. Only the top two teams automatically qualify for next summer's FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
"If we play the way we played against Kuwait, undoubtedly the Saudis will lose in Tehran," Daei told the ISNA news agency. "Our players are highly motivated and they know how crucial the win is for us to make it to the World Cup."
Iran beat Kuwait 1-0 away on Monday thanks to a penalty kick five minutes from time by Maziar Zare. In another friendly match on 15 March Iran beat Kenya 1-0 in Tehran again by another penalty from Hossein Kazemi.
"I do not know their new coach (Jose Peseiro) although I used to know their technique when they were coached by Nasser al-Johar, but in any case, regardless of who is coaching them, they will leave Tehran empty handed," Daei said.
The previous match in the group between the two sides, held in Riyadh, ended in a 1-1 draw last September. Javad Nekounam, who plays in the midfield for Spanish side Osasuna and who scored Iran's equaliser in the away game against the Saudis, warned that the visitors could be dangerous on the break.
"They will be very dangerous on the counter attack and we should be very careful, since due to their standing in the Group, they will not be on the offensive," Nekounam told the Mehr news agency.
Saudi Arabia are struggling with just four points from four games with United Arab Emirates bottom of the group with one point. The third-place teams in the two final Asian qualifiers will play each other for the right to take on Oceania zone victors New Zealand for a place in the finals.
Iran appeared in the FIFA World Cup finals in 1978, 1998 and 2006 but their only win to date was over USA in France in 1998.