Asian Cup 2011 Quarter-Final Preview: Iran - South Korea

Two of the continent's heavyweights clash yet again as they search for silverware.
As Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi put it on the eve of this match, it seems that South Korea and Iran meet in every Asian Cup. They will do so again this evening in Qatar.

This is the most anticipated of the quarter final matches, with Iran for now proving the pre-tournament doubters wrong by winning all of their group games and strolling into the last eight.

South Korea haven't been at their fluent best, but in patches have been excellent, with Koo Ja-Cheol netting four goals, stepping up in the absence of usual lead forward Park Chu-Young.

These two countries have five Asian Cup titles between them, but their last triumphs were in 1960 (South Korea) and 1976 (Iran).

Iran will be desperate for silverware after failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, while South Korea will sense a real opportunity to cement their standing as Asia's top side with the likes of Australia and Japan failing to hit top form in this tournament.

On paper they have the far stronger side, with the likes Park Ji-Sung and Lee Chung-Yong established European stars.

However, Afshin Ghotbi has led Iran impressively during their opening matches and despite the absence of star names (save for Javad Nekounam and Masoud Shojaei) they have banded together to produce fine team displays.

South Korea pose an entirely different test to the likes of the comparatively sluggish members of Group D; Cho Kwang-Rae's side are near-impossible to contain when at their best, moving intelligently on and off the ball.

Their tendency to be overrawed at the back by a more direct approach was highlighted during their second half against Australia though and this could be a weakness Iran look to exploit.

The Iranians will be without the talented Arash Afshin after he was sent off against the UAE.

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