Asian Cup Group C: Carlos Queiroz can excel with organised Iran
Iran are not far from the front pack of Asian Cup contenders, rated as 7/1 chances by Coral to win the competition after their promising World Cup displays under former Real Madrid head coach Carlos Queiroz.
Group C rivals United Arab Emirates and Qatar are also available as surprise shouts in the same market (both at 33/1), while underdogs Bahrain are ranks outsiders at 100/1.
The Princes of Persia should rightly be dominating their pool after the experience of going toe-to-toe with the likes of Argentina in Brazil, and have a wildcard up their sleeve in the form of highly-rated Rubin Kazan starlet Sadar Azmoun.
Ex-Manchester United assistant boss Queiroz also has former Fulham wideman Ashkan Dejagah and experienced Osasuna midfielder Javad Nekounam at his disposal, with his Europe-based stars providing an edge.
This makes Iran, a solid and passionate team, understandably odds-on favourites at 4/5 to emerge as Group C victors.
Joint second-favourites at 10/3, United Arab Emirates and 2014 Gulf Cup of Nations winners Qatar will also be tussling for top spot.
A key clash from Group C looks likely to be the opening pool battle between The White and The Maroon, who could easily cancel each other out.
UAE have formidable marksman Ali Mabkhout, who grabbed five goals in the Gulf Cup, in their ranks to boost their chances of breaching group rivals’ backlines.
However, controversial World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar can field custodian Qasem Burhan, who was named keeper of the Gulf Cup tournament, in attempt to nullify The White’s attack.
United Arab Emirates look to be at a distinct advantage in the race for the number one pool spot, as they face favourites Iran last and have failed to qualify from the group stages on their last three attempts.
Bahrain, meanwhile, are 10/1 outside chances of winning Group C as they look to prove that they are more than just minnows in the way of these ambitious Middle Eastern sides’ quests for success.