IranSportsPress.com - The Asian Cup in Qatar is a recurrent story for Iranian football since 2000, when we first thought about actually winning the competition again. The question is whether we will finally break the loop or not, but it looks like another February 2nd.
There are minor differences to previous Asian Cups, as an example that for the first time since God knows when Iran had an actual preparation for the Cup and no one could blame our exit on lack of funds, preparation, the fact that we had tea at halftime, while others had a special mixture of Gatorade, or anything else. I don't know the last time we played so many friendlies before a tournament and at times against half decent opponents(though the value of lessons to be learned from a Brazil game were we tried nothing remains to be seen). Also, maybe except for the coaching staff and some die hard fans no one really expects this team to win it or would publicly claim it, so it can't be the burden of expectations. But this team is given the other participants in the tournament still a half decent team with a shot to win it, because, let's be frank, Iraq won it in 2007 and that team wasn't the greatest either, so everything can happen. So while this might be the least star studded and talentless team in some time and better Iranian teams, like the one in 2007 or the other in 2000, failed in quarterfinals, the field is pretty evened out and the last time we got close to a win was in 1996 and 2004, where after the first games no one expected Iran to win anything, and before neither.
Iran has the luck of draw with a rather easyish group, would have a test against either one of South Korea, Australia and Bahrain in Quarter Finals, and a rather good draw in semifinals. So expecting this team to progress given the circumstances is nothing out of this world. But so did we expect Iran to get past a South Korean high school selection in 2007, but we didn't really expect them to make it past South Korea in 2004 and neither in 1996.
Overall, we can't expect anything from this team as let's be frank, if previous teams failed, maybe the level we fail is just our level in Asia. However, if this turns out into a disaster, we should have a right to be upset, because winning this tournament wouldn't be something out of this world, given the draw, the players still available, the preparation and everything else. All we know is that the day after January 29th is January 30th and life will go on and in 4 years we should have similar talk, or maybe not.