Queiroz vs Lippi; who will leave?

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (MNA) – Two of the most prominent European coaches working in Asia, Marcello Lippi and Carlos Queiroz, will face each other at quarterfinals of 2019 AFC Asian Cup; an encounter which can be described as ‘clash of titans’.

One of the quarters’ matches of the tournament will be the clash of Iran and China on Thursday at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

Queiroz’ men advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament as Group D winners with 7 points. They first hammered Yemen 5-0, then gained a 2-0 victory over Vietnam before having a 0-0 draw with traditional rivals, Iraq, in a tight game.

Team Melli then managed to win Pim Verbeek’s Oman 2-0 in the round of 16 in a match where Alireza Beiranvand saved a penalty in the first minutes of the game to fuel the coming victory.

Now let’s take a look at the Dragons’ route to this level. China edged past Kyrgyzstan 2-1 in the opener of Group C and then secured berth to the round of 16 with a 3-0 victory over the Philippines. In its final match of stage group though, the team conceded a 2-0 defeat to South Korea.

In the knock stage, the Dragons locked horns with Thailand. Although one score behind, Lippi’s strategies and changes transformed the match result to 2-1 for China in less than 3 minutes.

Iran and China are not unfamiliar with each other as they have already held 25 matches; 13 wins for Team Melli, 5 wins for the Dragons and 7 draws.

The teams met each other two times in recent years at 2018 Russia World Cup qualifications; China earned one point after a 1-1 draw in September 2016. Then Lippi joined the ream in October 2016 and the second match of the two teams was held at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in late March 2017; Queiroz defeated the World Cup Winner Lippi 1-0 with Mehdi Taremi’s goal. Here is the match higlights:

As far as the continental tournament is concerned, Iran and China have encountered each other 6 times with three wins for Team Melli, one for the Dragons and two draws. In one of the most regrettable matches of Asian Cup for Iranian fans, China managed to defeat Team Melli in penalty shootouts in the semifinal of 2004 edition.

As the first comment on Iran, Lippi said that China needs more focus ahead of this clash, ChannelNewsAsia reported on Monday. "Sometimes they need to be much more focused and concentrated and pay more attention during the game. It's a psychological thing,” said the 70-year-old Italian coach, adding, “It's very important to have the same intensity, the same determination from the beginning of the game.”

On the other hand, Queiroz warned his players that they should not ruin chances as what happened in the match against Oman.

When Queiroz, Lippi met unexpectedly on Jan. 17 in UAE

“We cannot waste chances like we did against Oman, we must play with a killer instinct and we need to put the ball in the net,” he said Sunday, highlighting, “in knockout football, it is important to kill the game early, it gives you a tremendous advantage. The most important thing for the next game is to be calmer, to be smarter.”

“We know how much the China team has progressed, especially under [head coach] Marcello Lippi. It will be another difficult game, as will all the matches going forward.”

Lippi is expected to leave China after the tournament following two-and-a-half years at the helm and this match may be his last game as the coach of the Dragons.

Also, Queiroz' contract has just been extended to the end of this tournament although, some Iranian officials in the football federation believe that Queiroz can get another long-term deal with Team Melli. The game will most probably be the last match for one of these two great coaches.

MAH

News Code 141782

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