0204 GMT August 10, 2022
Iran head coach Maryam Irandoost said her team will be looking to have an impressive campaign on its debut at the upcoming AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Irandoost and her team on Saturday will leave for India, where they are pitted against the host, China, and Chinese Taipei in Group A of the competition – kicking off on January 20.
Iran will get its campaign underway against India – runner-up in 1979 and 1983 – on the opening day of the competition in Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, before taking on eight-time champion China at Mumbai Football Arena three days later.
The final day of the group will see Iranian women face Chinese Taipei on January 26.
Iran beat Jordan in September to secure a first-ever spot at the event.
Following a goalless draw in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Zohreh Koudaei saved two spot-kicks as Irandoost’s side beat the Arab Cup champion 4-2 in the shootout to book its place in the final showdown.
“It’s been nearly four mouth since we last played a competitive match and we have not played any friendlies during this period, but I’m still optimistic that Iran is capable of delivering decent performances in India as the team is in a proper physical and mental state,” said the Iranian head coach, whose team is in a training camp on the Kish Island, southern Iran, to adapt to the weather conditions of India.
A place in the finals, which also serves as the qualifications for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and the New Zealand, could already be considered as a huge success for Iran, which had even been removed from the FIFA Women’s World Ranking for five months – for what the international football governing body had described as lack of competitive action for two years – before regaining its spot last April.
When asked if her inexperienced side will be fancying its chances of securing one of five qualification slots, Irandoost preferred to be realistic, shrugging off expectations.
“The idea only piles on the pressure on the squad,” said Irandoost, adding, “This is the first time Iran will be taking part in a tournament of this magnitude. We all know that China is the most decorated team in the history of the Asian Cup. Even India and Chinese Taipei have had better preparation than us. But we’ll still put in all our efforts to qualify from the group and progress in the competition.”
For the women’s sport in Iran, which has enjoyed global triumphs in multiple individual contests in recent years, Asian Cup participation comes as a further step in the development of team sports, following domination over the AFC Women's Futsal Asian Cup in 2015 and 2018.