Iran coach coach Ali Daei has vowed his team will defeat Korea Republic in a key Asian Zone FIFA World Cup™ qualifier on Wednesday.
The Iranians, seeking a fourth appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals, trail the Koreans by five points after three games, the latter leading the group with seven points out of three matches. "South Korea are not as tough as has been rumoured here, I fully know South Korea and I promise a win for the Iranians in Wednesday's match," Daei told ISNA news agency.
The last time the two Asian giants clashed was in the AFC Asian Cup finals in Malaysia in 2007 when Korea Republic won a gruelling and fluctuating match 4-2 on penalties. Daei said that he had watched Korea Republic's recent 2-2 draw against Bahrain, but noted that the Koreans had been without a number of key players that day.
I know that South Korea has been and still is one of the Asian football powers, but I believe in my own players' abilities.
"I know that South Korea has been and still is one of the Asian football powers, but I believe in my own players' abilities. Wait and compare on Wednesday," he added.
Daei, international football's all-time leading goal scorer and who played in Germany in the 1990s, is expecting big things from three key players: Javad Nekouman and Masoud Shojae, who play for Spanish side Osasuna, and Vahid Hashemian, currently with German side Bochum. "With the help of our players who play in the European leagues we can beat South Korea and we will make it to the World Cup finals as top of our group," Daei said.
Hashemian's mother died last week, but he told ISNA that he will still play for his country against the Koreans. "I think I am in a fit physical and mental condition and I hope to be at my best on the match day," he said.