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BY : ASSOCIATED PRESS |   January , 05, 2015, 18:53 PM  

Iran attempt to end 40 years of Asian Cup pain
Iran's squad arrived in Australia for the Asian Cup aiming to end nearly 40 years of football heartache with a long overdue continental triumph.

Team Melli must first overcome rivals from closer to home in an all-West Asian Group C, which includes Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Asia's top-ranked team at No. 51, Iran has not progressed past the Asian Cup quarterfinals since 1996, falling well short of its most successful era when it won three successive tournaments from 1968 to 1976.

The ace for Iran could be its coach, former Portugal and Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz, who guided the squad to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Queiroz was expected to leave his post after Iran's group-stage exit from Brazil, but stayed on in what appears to be a vote of confidence in his methods.

Iran's captain and talisman, Javad Nekounam of Osasuna in Spain, brings some star power to a tournament light on high-profile players and will be aiming to continue his goal-scoring form from qualifying, during which he netted four times.

Iran opens against Bahrain at Melbourne on Jan. 11.


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