Big Guns Primed as Business End of Asian Cup Gets Underway

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  • TEMPO.COAbu Dhabi - With the big powers all having negotiated the expanded Asian Cup group stage safely enough, the tournament gets going in earnest on Sunday with the first of the sudden-death round of 16 ties.

    First of the former champions out of the blocks are Iran, who take on Oman at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi for the right to play China or Thailand in the last eight.

    Team Melli cruised through their group unbeaten and should make light work of Pim Verbeek's Oman, who progressed as one of the best third-placed teams by virtue of a sole win over Turkmenistan.

    "The real Asian Cup starts now," coach Carlos Queiroz told a news conference on Saturday.

    "It is everything for the winner, nothing for the losers. There is no room for mistakes, no room for regrets, there is no room for sorry, no room for tomorrow. It is just here and now.

    "Ninety minutes trying to play the best football you can, and with good inspiration and great character trying to be the best team on the pitch."

    Iran's clash with Oman is the final match on Sunday as the Chinese take on Thailand in Al Ain in the late afternoon after Jordan battle it out with Vietnam in Dubai for the first spot in the Asian Cup's quarter-finals.