Tag: Hong Kong

Ghalenoei wants a sharper Iran


Ashgabat: Amir Ghalenoei is demanding more potency from his Islamic Republic of Iran team despite having secured a spot at the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™ and reaching Round 3 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers following a 1-0 win over Turkmenistan on Tuesday.
The head coach, who steered Iran to the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™, was unhappy at the profligacy that could have been costly for Team Melli.

“Let me congratulate the Turkmenistan team for the good game they played,” said Ghalenoei. “The head coach has a very good team.
“We could have won by two or three goals, and of course, in the last minutes, there was a possibility that the game would be tied.”

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Mehdi Ghayedi’s first half stoppage time goal decided the match, as Iran found Turkmenistan harder to crack after having scored five past them last Thursday.  
The win put IR Iran on 10 points – the same as Uzbekistan – with both teams assured of a top two finish. 

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Uzbekistan made sure of their spot with a 3-0 win over Hong Kong, China whose head coach Jorn Andersen put the defeat down to the difference in individual quality though the Norwegian still found some silver linings from the performance of his players.
“We did very well in the first 15 minutes but then Uzbekistan increased the pressure and created many chances, proving that they are at a high level,” said Andersen. “Although we lost 3-0, I wouldn’t call it a bad result. The level of several strong players in the ranks of our opponent was the reason for the outcome of the match.
“True, I was not completely satisfied with the result. We conceded very simple goals. But I can say that the guys tried their best. I thank them for that.”

No place for Ahmad Nourollahi in Team Melli, unless…

Title: Amir Ghalenoei’s Firm Stand: Ahmad Nourollahi’s Omission from Team Melli

The AFC Asian Cup 2023 marked the absence of midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi, a notable exclusion from Team Melli’s roster. Despite his recent commendable performances with Al Wehda in the UAE Professional League, Nourollahi found himself sidelined under the helm of coach Amir Ghalenoei.

Nourollahi’s departure from the Team Melli camp during the match against Hong Kong in the preliminary stage of the 2026 World Cup was a breach of discipline that led to his exclusion from Ghalenoei’s final squad. Despite his continued success in the Emirates Club Football League post-Asian Cup, media inquiries persisted regarding his potential reinstatement into Team Melli.

However, Ghalenoei’s response to queries about Nourollahi’s return to the national team was met with a wry smile, indicating that complications still surrounded the midfielder’s potential comeback. The coach’s stance remained steadfast: Nourollahi would only be reconsidered if he publicly and officially apologized to the coaching staff for his actions, demonstrating a commitment to team discipline and cohesion.

Ghalenoei’s unwavering position on Nourollahi’s reinstatement deserves commendation, as it underscores the importance of maintaining discipline within the squad. With enough players already posing potential disciplinary issues, Ghalenoei’s decision serves as a reminder of the standards expected from Team Melli members both on and off the field.

Team Melli sweats it to narrowly defeat Hong Kong!

Team Melli beat Hong Kong 1-0 in its second match of Group C of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

The only goal of the match was scored by Mehdi Ghayedi in the 24th minute. With this win, Iran has 6 points and is leading the group ahead of UAE with 4 points. The group decider will be against the UAE where Team Mlli needs one point to maintain the top position in the group while the UAE has to win to lead Group C.

In one of the worst performances by Team Melli in recent times, the Ghalenoei team was weak in every aspect of the professional game. Be it the passing, mental agility, tactical discipline, tackling, man marking and agility.

Since Ghalenoei is the responsible person for selecting the players to start the match and for the game plan, it was a bad mark for the Head Coach who has yet to taste defeat since he took over more than a year ago. These days have an eerily remanence of his last time at the helm of Team Melli in 2006 to 2007 ., where the team was performing near perfection until he fell in the last hurdle against South Korea in the Penalty kicks at the quarter-final of the Asian Cup 2007. Most of the criticism back then was targeted at Ghalenoei as he was accused of failing to instill discipline in his team with players acting up in the penalty kicks amongst other shortfalls in the Asian Cup 2007.

In this match, the fans were expecting a bonanza of goals, or at least as many as the team scored against Palestine last time out. But instead, and from kick-off, it seemed that the engines of Team Melli lacked oiling, perhaps needing a major overhaul.

One positive aspect of Ghalenoei’s selection is the replacement of Ezatollahi with the much more versatile Cheshmi, despite a few initial errors at the beginning of the game by the Esteghlal holding midfielder. But most of the problems were in Saman Ghoddos who was the MVP of the last game, but in this one, he decided to have a day off! His passing, vision, and dynamism were truly lacking. There was no help from Jahanbakhsh either, Ghaedi was perhaps the only bright star of the whole team and his goal was a testament to his enterprise and energy.

Mehdi Taremi has not done anything to mitigate the fears of the fans who believe that he is not a man for big occasions. Taremi, regrettably, is looking like an amateur league player in Team Melli Jersey. He has yet to score or provide an assist in the last two matches. He seemed to be unaware of Shahriyar Moghanlou’s existence in the same team or maybe they were not on speaking terms. There was little passing and understanding between the two forwards. That in itself brings on the question of why Moghanlou if Azmoun is fit and ready.? Nothing of worth came from Jahanbakhsh either.

If that was bad, the worst line of the team was undoubtedly the defense line. How lucky Team Melli was in facing a team that could not shoot straight in Hong Kong? From the shakey Beiranvand to the clumsy Kanani, and wayward Mohammadi, to the disorganization and lack of understanding between the players in a systematic defense, all those were a recipe for disaster. Hong Kong, despite the gallant attempts, just lacked the quality to take advantage of all the gifts awarded to them by the benevolent Team Melli defense.

Iran’s defense is truly on shaky ground. They were supposed to have an easy day out supplementing the offensive line, but the reality is that they were quite lucky not to concede goals. That might not be the case next time or in the knockout stages where it is quite likely that defensive blunders will cost Team Melli dearly.

Ghalneoei himself did not fare well either. He was visibly angry on the bench and at times covering his face in embarrassment. If we have to go by the cliche about ‘Second Halves’ being the coach’s half, then the Norwegian Jorn Andersen beat Ghalenoei hands down. He skillfully reorganized his team in the second half, found the weakness of the Iran team, and tightened his central defense while exerting pressure on the flanks to prevent danger from Iranian wingers and half-backs., The only thing that he fell short of, as mentioned before, was the lack of finishers in his team in front of the Iran goal.

Hong Kong has to be credited for this performance.

AFC Asian Cup: Hong Kong midfielder Chan vows team will stick with fast-and-furious style for daunting Iran encounter

  • Hong Kong are expected to lose their second Group C game, but Philip Chan says there is no thought of damage limitation
  • Defender Oliver Gerbig says team ‘belong at this level’ following fine UAE showing

Paul McNamara

Philip Chan Siu-kwan said Hong Kong would go into their AFC Asian Cup clash with Iran on Friday bearing no ill effects from a controversial opening defeat by United Arab Emirates in Qatar.

And the midfielder, whose strike in Sunday’s 3-1 loss was the national team’s first in the tournament since 1968, was backed up by defender Oliver Gerbig, who said the result proved Hong Kong “belong at this level”.

Conventional wisdom suggests Hong Kong’s best option would be to try and limit the damage against Iran, with a view to pushing for victory over Palestine in their last Group C fixture on Monday.00:29

A win, coupled with a relatively healthy goal difference, could see them squeeze into the last 16 as one of the strongest third-placed finishers.

But Chan, a totem of Jorn Andersen’s fast-and-furious philosophy, said there was no temptation to ease off against the tournament’s second-highest-ranked team, who started their campaign with a 4-1 win over Palestine.

“It is going to be a very tough game, but look at our performance against UAE, there were no restraints,” Chan said. “There is no turning back now. We are going to challenge every team in the group stage, and try to get to the last-16.

“I know my teammates, and have no doubt we will not be mentally affected by anything that happened against UAE.

“We have made big improvements with the coach [Andersen], and done a really good job building this team. We used to be more conservative, but now we are trying to move forward, take shots on goal, and show the best of ourselves.”

Andersen identified Chan early as a player carved in his favoured aggressive mould. Of the 31-year-old’s 19 international appearances, 17 have come since the Norwegian took charge two years ago.

“I would not speak for myself, but whoever the coach picks, the minimum requirement is to be aggressive, and to not be conservative, which is a good thing in football,” Chan said. “We have to try to win in every game, and show we are capable of competing.”

Gerbig is the bolter in Andersen’s team. He was out of the squad as recently as September, and across four matches in the October and November international windows spent only one minute on the field.

Oliver Gerbig muscled his way into the Hong Kong team after impressive pre-tournament form. Photo: Xinhua

The 25-year-old impressed in a pre-tournament camp to the extent head coach Andersen called Gerbig “the winner from our preparations”.

Gerbig won his third cap against UAE, and, although the victim of a harsh first-half penalty decision, was solid in the heart of defence.

“I think we belong [at this level],” Gerbig said. “We wanted at least a point against UAE, but it was a positive performance. We put up a fight and showed we are not easy to play against. At 1-0 and 2-1 down, we said to keep believing and pushing. That is the mentality of this team; we keep going.

“We are improving and have shown we can play at this level, and that Hong Kong has good football players.”

Kitchee player Gerbig exemplified the “keep going” mantra when he was exiled from the national team squad.

“I put my head down, kept working and waited for my chance,” he said.

“I believed in my ability, but had to show it to the coach and earn his trust. The training camp was intense, with a lot of running. I worked on things the manager wants from his defenders, and my physicality and aggression improved.”

Ghalenoei game plan vs Hong Kong

After a convincing comfortable win in the first match for Team Melli against Palestine, Amir Ghalenoei opted to give his players a day off on Monday. The players were happy to take the off day to roam around the city of Doha to observe the majestic infrastructure and the modern shopping areas.

Ghalenoei and his coaching staff remained in the hotel planning for the next match vs Hong Kong that will be played on Friday. The concern about injuries has died down as it seems all the players on the injury list have recovered and can play if Ghalenoei wishes to use them. The head coach, however, is contemplating a change in the lineup to give the main players some rest while giving fringe players the chance thus spreading the workload amongst a maximum number of players in this long competition that needs fresh players, not over-worked or exhausted ones.

Hong Kong lost against UAE in its first match 1-3 with two penalties conceded. Despite that loss, Hong Kong looked quite good and managed to control the game at different periods. The team has improved in the last few seasons and with the naturalized players, there is flair and industry, and confidence is high. It is not a team that should be taken lightly by Iran despite the 4-0 drubbing the last time these two met in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Azadi.

There is no question of Ghalenoei putting a weakened team against Hong Kong as a win is essential. Players like Azmoun, Taremi, Ghoddos, and Jahanbakhsh are essential in the team lineup. Other players can be rested such as Saeid Ezatollahi who had a pretty bad match against Palestine and also suffered a trauma on his nose. A rest for that player will do both himself and the team a ton of good. Cheshmi or Ebrahimi would be the ideal options to replace Ezatollahi.

Mehdi Torabi, who was not even on the bench against Palestine, Ali Gholizadeh, and Mehdi Ghaeydi are good options to start as midfielders alongside Ghoddos.

There have been questions about the defense and conceding the goal has worried the local Iranian media. The Ezatollahi blunder has raised the question although it was an individual error from one player. The overall standard of defense was quite good against Palestine, however, a change of personalities would be beneficial. Some younger energy will do Team Melli a world of good.

Team Melli breezes past Palestine

Team Melli started its challenge for the AFC Asian Cup with a predicted win in front of 7,691 spectators against Palestine at Education City Stadium refereed by Abdul Rahman Al Jassim from Qatar. The match saw the observance of a one-minute silence for the victims of the Israeli-American attack on Gazza, which ended 4-1 for Iran. In the other game of Group C, the UAE won three to one against Hong Kong to get off to a good start.

Team Melli stormed in the lead as it took Karim Ansarifard just about a minute to open the scoring from a Saman Ghoddos assist.

Ten minutes later, Saman Ghoddos, sent a free kick to the far corner of Palestine where Shoja’a Khalilzadeh was lurking after he cleverly lost his marker. The center-back, met the ball finishing into the net to give Iran a 2-0 lead. With two early goals, Team Melli had comfortable time to pass the ball around. However, the Palestinian team embarked on a rough play and was lucky to escape with only six yellow cards by the end of the match.

In the 37th minute, the beautiful teamwork resulted in the third goal. Alireza Jahanbakhsh received the ball just outside of Palestine’s box. He then sent a weighted ball for the onrushing Mehdi Ghayedi on his left. The tiny winger made no mistake sending a powerful shot to the far right corner of the Palestinian keeper Rami Hamadah. 3-0 for Iran and still plenty of minutes until the end of the first half.

The rough game of the opponents resulted in its first casualty for Iran as Khalilzadeh, the scorer of the second goal had to leave the field after a wild tackle from the Palestinian player.

The final minutes of the half, saw quite a blunder by Saeed Ezatollahi on a free kick for Palestine. Instead of clearing the ball away, he headed it right in front of Palestine forward, Tamer Seyam who had the easy task of finishing it into the net of hapless Beiranvand. Ezatollahi’s gift was unexpected and it created the loudest cheer of the day in Education City.

In the second half, Azmoun and Mohebbi replaced Ansarifard and Ghayedi. So, all Team Melli scorers have left the field. The rough game of the Palestinians continued but that did not prevent Sardar from scoring Iran’s fourth and his 50th goal in an Iranian Jersey to equal Karim Bagheri’s record.

There were lots of missed opportunities by Team Melli while Beirnvand made a great save near the end of the second half. Mehdi Taremi was unfortunate not to score. He had many chances but could not make any count.

The excellent performance of Saman Ghoddos who had two assists in this game, earned him the Most Valuable Player of the match. Sadegh Moharrami was at his best and a delight to watch. Ramin Rezaeian played a few minutes and despite not creating any chances, he seemed to be fit for the coming matches. That is crucial for Team Melli.

Iran leads the table with 3 points ahead of UAE who beat Hong Kong 3-1, on goal difference. Team Melli will meet Hong Kong next to consolidate the lead.

Players rating and analysis vs. Hong Kong

Despite the four-goal margin and Team Melli’s comfortable win, the display against Hong Kong was far from comfortable or easy on the eyes.

Very little of that type of performance was new to the fans and the same mistakes and shortfalls kept occurring, which seems that these gaps have not been addressed properly. That is despite the claims of Ghalenoei who said “We are learning from our past mistakes.”. Obviously not in the Hong Kong match.

The most ominous issue is the high average age of the players which remains the most serious of problems facing the contenders of the AFC Asian Cup Title. Ghelenoei is living in denial and is adamant that his selection is not old and has no issues with the physicality or pace. In fact, the slow and aging defense is now becoming a major problem as even a team like Hong Kong could trouble the Iranian defenders as witnessed on Thursday.

Other issues:

Midfield lack of creativity: If it wasn’t for the presence of Saman Ghoddos, the so-called midfield would have been non-existent. Ghoddos, was the only player with vision and creativity with the rest being just also-rans, ordinary players.

Team-work: Generally, not pleasant, and if the rumors are true, then a division in the team between two or many factions, seems to affect the overall performance, in particular, Team Work. We hope that these rumors are not true, then again it has to be a matter of strategy and game plan by Ghalenoi and his staff who really need to work on this.

Profligacy: There were far too many wasted chances by all the forward players. Taremi was the biggest culprit as he could have been on a hat trick. Jahanbaksh, Mohebbi, and Ezatollahi were the other three players who wasted very good scoring chances


1 Alireza Beiranvand: Was not troubled much and hardly tested by the Hong Kong forwards. When required, he was comfortable and safely held the ball. [7.0]

3Ehsan Hajisafi: Less prominent than his last three appearances. His forays into attack were limited and did not venture forward much. He held back, no doubt in fear of the pacy Hong Kong counterattacks. Perhaps a wise move. [6.0]

23 Ramin Rezaeian: Continues to shine as a right back which seems to be his own property in Team Melli lately. There was little to fault his play. Scored a beautiful free kick worth winning a match on its own. Defensive work is also sound although not being put under much pressure. [8.4]

4 Shojaa Khalilzadeh: Againg and clearly short of pace. In one scene, the Hong Kong player easily beats him with a shimmy. Shojaa was unable to match his pace so he fouled the opposition player and got a yellow card for his effort. This is not the first time he has fallen into this trap in recent games. Against better teams, he will be really tested and found wanting. [5.8]

13 Hossein Kananizadegan: Quiet and uneventful match for the central defender. His coordination with Khalilzadeh is not at the level that it should be. In the tougher matches that could create gaps. [6.3]

Saeid Ezzatolahi: No matter how hard he tried, he was lost and poor in all aspects of the game. Bad passing, poor tacking, missed a rare scoring opportunity from nearly a meter from the goal line, poor marking, and the list goes on. Ezzatolahi should be nowhere near Team Melli with such form. Much better options are available, only if Ghalenoei opens his eyes and looks around without the blinds and bias [3.6]

14. Saman Ghoddos: Started a game for the first time in a long time and he was brilliant. This is the type of player that Team Melli needs in the middle of the field, intelligent passing, vision, enthusiasm, work rate, and style were all evident in his play. Ghoddos seems to never complete 90 minutes in any game for as long as one remembers. Whatever the problem here, it must be sorted out. Overall, an excellent performance by the Brentford midfielder. [9.0]

 19 Mohammad Mohebi: Another disappointing performance from the Rostov player. A much better standard is expected from him, however, his contribution and assist in the first goal were of high quality. His clash with Taremi in the box when both went for an overhead kick was embarrassing [6.5]

9 Mehdi Taremi: Scored one goal and provided one assist. That was the highlight of an untypical poor performance from a player who the fans expect much from him. Taremi’s body language is far from assuring too. He is just not clicking. It might not be a big worry from Team Melli’s point of view as a competent and sharp Azmoun can finish the work, but Taremi is needed and whatever bothers him needs to be sorted out. Proper counseling from expertise, is always a big boost. His Porto performance this season is at the same poor form too and that might be affecting him in Team Melli. [6.9]

20 Sardar Azmoun: Exellect all over and the MVP of the game. Scored two opportunistic goals with the sharpness and accuracy of a true professional and provided one assist for Taremi’s goal. That earned him the MVP. He could have scored a hattrick but for his unselfishness, he opted to pass to Taremi who was off-side and spoiled a real setter. Azmoun has now scored 49 goals in 74 matches for Team Melli.  [9.2]

7 Alireza Jahanbakhsh: The Feyenoord winger is perhaps in the same boat as Taremi. He continues his poor run for club and country. Really disappointing against Hong Kong and had zero contribution to the goals, His wild shots at goal were a sign of desperation. Got himself injured as well and will be setting the next match vs Uzbekistan out. Lack of confidence, hesitancy, inability to create chances for the forwards, and many more shortfalls marred his game against Hong Kong and reminds one of a similar performance against Jordan.  [4.5]


Mehdi Torabi: Replaced Mohebbi in the 70th minute.Had a rather quiet game and an uneventful 20 minutes. [6.0]

Omid Ebrahimi: Replaced Saman Ghoddos in the 70th minute. There was no obvious reason for such a substitution as Ghoddos was doing an excellent job in the middle of the field. Ebrahimi, now 37 years old, lacks much of his old pace and frankly, he is not suited to play at the international level. But it seems that he has the vote of Ghalenoei.[5.8]

Reza Asadi: Took Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s place in the 74th minute and he soon faded in the match. Did not see much action in the 16 minutes he was on the field. [5.0]

Karim Nsarifard and Javad Hosseinnejad had cameo appearances and were not rated.

Coach: Amir Ghalenoei: His attitude toward rejuvenating the team and his insistence on older and slower players has lowered his worth amongst the fans and pundits alike. In this match, the introduction of a 37-year-old player at the twilight of his career while a 20-year-old player with a bright future was available, was an act of absurdity and silliness. Ghalenoei was not pleased with his players’ profligacy. The TV cameras caught him shouting quite angrily at his player. He has yet to forge his tactical ideas on this group. Team Melli is not firing on all cylinders, and he needs to act. [5.5] 

Alireza Jahanbakhsh is out due to injury.

There was some bad news for Team Melli winger, Alireza Jahanbakhsh following the match against Hong Kong on Thursday.

After a loose ball clash, Jahanbakhsh was visibly in pain due to a leg injury and was subsequently substituted, In the post-match therapy, the Feyenoord winger was withdrawn from Team Melli camp and will proceed to the Netherlands to continue the diagnosis and treatment.
The media department of Team Melli, Dr. Prahan Khanleri, the Chief Medical Officer of the team, said that Alireza Jahanbakhsh has suffered a slight hamstring injury during last night’s match against Hong Kong, and accordingly, for treatment of this injury, he has to be out of action for at least two weeks rest period. He added: With the decision made, Jahanbakhsh will leave for Holland on Sunday to treat his injury, so it is not possible for this player to join the group for the match against Uzbekistan.
Team Melli defeated Hong Kong 4-0 in the first match of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers on Thursday evening.

Winning start for Team Melli in World Cup qualifiers.

Team Melli defeated Hong Kong 4-0 in Azadi on Thursday evening in the first match of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers. Sardar Amoun scored two goals while Mehdi Taremi and Ramin Rezaeian scored the other two.

Despite the good margin of victory against a lowly Hong Kong ranked 150th in the world, Team Melli was far from convincing and at times even embarrassing. The two late goals in the second half added some respectability to the result but that should not hide the fact that Ghalenoei has a lot of work to do to build a respectable team for the World Cup in 3 years’ time. Although Iran is one of the favorite for the AFC Asian Cup, such performance with an aging team puts a lot of question marks on this claim.

Iran started positively and through a good assist by Mohebbi courtesy of Capt. Hajsafi’s perseverance, Azmoun cooly slotted the ball into the net in the 12th minute. Two minutes later, Azmoun struck again from a similar situation from a Mehdi Taremi pass into the box. After that, thinking that the Hong Kong floodgate has opened the players started show acting to entertain the small crowd in Azadi. This showtime act, was at times quite embarrassing to watch. Mohebbi and Taremi both went for the same ball on the 6-yard line, both going for overhead kick, resulting in Taremi’s boot whacking Mohebbi;s head with the ball nowhere to be seen.

Wrong passes, uncoordinated moves, lethargy and taking it easy marred the rest of the half for Iran. Hong Kong on the other hand managed to close the path of Team Melli player with numbers and pressing tactics.

In the second half , it was Hong Kong who were determined to score and nearly managed that. Iran’s defense held tight and managed to survive until two late goals sealed the match for the home team.

This is the 9th victory for Amir Ghalenoei, a record that would be the envy of any coach in the world. It is also Ghalenoei’s first win in an official match, however, this team and Ghalenoi himself is far from convincing. His stubbornness in using older players like Omid Ebrahimi (37 years) and Karim Ansarifard (34 years) , is a serious setback for Iran’s football and Team Melli and such pig-headed attitude will come back and haunt him.

Despite what he said yesterday in his pre-match press conference about learning from mistakes, it is doubtful that he seriously means it. This current team may beat the likes of Angola, Hong Kong, Jordan all teams ranked below Team Melli, but the real test will come soon, in fact in 5 days from now when Iran faces the much-improved Uzbekistan in Tashkent.

Man of the Match: Sardar Azmoun.

World Cup qualifiers starts for Team Melli.

Preview – Group E: Turkmenistan v Uzbekistan; IR Iran v Hong Kong, China

Tehran: Iran are the clear favourites to advance from Group E of the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027™.
Iran, seeking to qualify for a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup, face Hong Kong, China on Thursday with Turkmenistan hosting Uzbekistan.
Iran’s array of stars means Hong Kong will face a stern test of their credentials at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran.

Having suffered heartbreak at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Iran will be determined to qualify for the 2026 edition after having failed to advance from the group stage in all their previous six appearances at the global showpiece.

Hong Kong, however, will not be lacking in confidence after having sealed a return to the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 1968 and having advanced to the semi-finals of the Asian Games for the first time in the recent Hangzhou edition.

Turkmenistan, the only team in the group not heading to the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, will be fired up to erase that disappointment by enjoying a good run in the Preliminary Joint Qualification.

Uzbekistan will be familiar foes, with their Central Asian rivals on a mission to advance to the third round after missing out in 2022.

Thursday’s fixtures
Turkmenistan v Uzbekistan
Venue: Ashgabat Stadium (Ashgabat)
Kick-off: 19:00 (UTC+4)

IR Iran v Hong Kong, China
Venue: Azadi Stadium (Tehran)
Kick-off: 18:00 (UTC+3:30)