February 26, 2024

The 18th edition of the AFC Asian Cup has begun in Doha, with Iran hoping to end their 47-year title drought. Due to the impact of COVID-19, China withdrew as host country for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, which will now be held in Qatar in 2024. Defending champions Qatar started the tournament with a strong win over Lebanon. Iran’s national team, led by Amir Ghalenoei, will play against Palestine in their first match. While Qatar successfully hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2022, the Asian Cup in 2023 seems to be lacking in excitement and fan engagement. The smaller number of teams and less captivating matches in the group stages have contributed to a slower start to the competition. Iran, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia are among the favorites to win the tournament. Head coach of the UAE national team, Paulo Bento, praises Iran’s strength and skilled players. The question remains whether Iran’s football team can fulfill their 47-year quest for an AFC Asian Cup title under Ghalenoei’s leadership.

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