Vietnam v Iran: Saman Ghoddos not yet dreaming of glory despite flying start

Iran got off to a dream start in the Asian Cup but ahead of Saturday's meeting with Vietnam, forward Saman Ghoddos is playing down expectations.

Iran's Saman Ghoddos: "We are going to play our game and not think so much about the other team."   -  Getty Images

Saman Ghoddos insists Iran is not allowing themselves to think of lifting the Asian Cup even after its sensational start to the tournament.

Carlos Queiroz's men — the highest-ranked of the 24 nations involved in the competition — faces Vietnam on Saturday on the back of a 5-0 thrashing of Yemen in its opening Group D fixture.

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Amiens forward Ghoddos rounded off the scoring in that rout as Iran delivered a performance to underline its credentials in many people's eyes as favourite to add to its three titles. That trio of crowns arrived in successive tournaments in the 1960s and 70s, but Ghoddos believes it is far too early in this year's event to start dreaming of possible glory for the current generation.

'Long tournament'

"That's not a thought in our minds right now, because it's a long tournament and it's tough games," Ghoddos said.

"We're just looking forward to the next game, and right now that's Vietnam. That's important for us, to just think about the next game and not think too many steps in front. To be honest I haven't watched the other games, just to keep focused on my own game, so I don't know the level yet.

"The coach and his team have analysed them and we have watched some videos. It's a good team, all respect to them. However, we are going to play our game and we are not thinking so much about the other team."

'Much stronger opponent'

Victory at Abu Dhabi's Al Nahyan Stadium will secure qualification to the last 16 for Iran, which stands 71 places above its opponent in the FIFA rankings.

Vietnam was defeated 3-2 by Iraq in its last contest. Photo: AFP

 

Vietnam's tournament got off to a heart-breaking start on Tuesday as it led twice before conceding a 90th-minute winner to a fine free-kick from Iraq's Ali Adnan. Head coach Park Hang-seo spoke of his immense pride at that display, but the South Korean was under no illusions as to the test that awaits his players on Saturday.

"Hopefully we'll try to play better against Iran in the next game even though they are a much stronger opponent," he said.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vietnam - Nguyen Cong Phuong

The striker netted Vietnam's second goal against Iraq and against tougher opponents in Iran, one expects he will have to make the most of any half-chances that come his way if his side is to avoid falling to successive defeats.

Iran - Mehdi Taremi

The Al-Gharafa forward was the star of the win over Yemen, scoring twice and laying on an assist for Sardar Azmoun. Iran will hope he can recreate that performance as it looks to secure its place in the knockout stages.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first encounter at the Asian Cup between Vietnam and Iran.
- Vietnam has lost its last three Asian Cup games, conceding nine goals. It was unbeaten in its first two Asian Cup games (W1 D1), conceding just once.
- Iran has won each of its last eight Asian Cup group-stage matches — a win against Vietnam will see the nation hold the outright record for successive group-stage wins.
- Vietnam's defeat to Iraq in its 2019 Asian Cup opener was its first defeat in 19 international matches (W9 D9), with its previous loss coming in December 2016 against Indonesia.
- Iran has conceded just one goal in its last eight Asian Cup games in the group stages, keeping a clean sheet in each of the previous six.

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