The United Arab Emirates (64th in the FIFA rankings) and Iran (21st in the FIFA rankings) will play their final Group C match of the 2023 Asian Cup in Qatar at Education City Stadium in Alayyan, Qatar, at 0 a.m. on the 24th (Korea time).
Currently, Iran with six points is the first in Group C, and the United Arab Emirates with four points is the second. After that, Palestine with one point is aiming for the second place. The UAE is likely to be at least second in the group. In terms of gains and losses, the UAE is +2 and Palestine is -3. In order for the rankings to be reversed, the UAE needs to lose significantly to Iran, and the Palestinians need to beat Hong Kong significantly. If the two are tied 1-1 in the previous 2nd round, they will be divided by a margin after the winner’s win.
With Iran and the United Arab Emirates virtually fighting for the top spot in their group, attention is focusing on the outcome of the match. This is because the top-ranked team in the group can meet Korea in the quarterfinals. Korea belongs to Group E, and if it has more gains and losses than Jordan at the same time as defeating Malaysia in the final match, it will advance to the round of 16 as the top-ranked team. In the tournament matchup, the winner of first place vs. second-ranked in Group E and the winner of first place in Group C vs. third-ranked in A/B/F will face off in the quarterfinals. That’s why it is considered one of many possibilities.
The United Arab Emirates is led by Bento, who is a “preference” against South Korea. Bento took the helm of South Korea before the United Arab Emirates and achieved the feat of advancing to the round of 16 at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Coincidentally, he miraculously reached the tournament by beating Portugal 2-1 through Hwang Hee-chan’s theater goal at Education City Stadium, the final venue of the group stage.
Even before the tournament, the possibility of a showdown with the United Arab Emirates was noted, and for this, Bento should first beat Iran and advance to the round of 16 as the top of the group.
Next, it could be Iran. Iran has doggedly bullied Korea in the Asian Cup. They competed in the quarterfinals for 1996, 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2011 in a row. They didn’t meet in 2015 and 2019, but it was quite a long jinx.
Still, South Korea and Iran are the favourites, so it is a loss to each other if they meet in the quarterfinals. This is because they have to use a lot of power, and if they go to extra time, they will consume a lot of energy.
This assumption is a case where Korea advances to the top of Group E, as mentioned earlier. If Korea ranks second in Group E and the United Arab Emirates ranks second in Group C, it will only be able to meet in the semifinals.