Football

Iran hammer Yemen, Queiroz slams critic

Team Melli sound warning to Asian Cup rivals in opening match

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz blasted his critics after his side crushed Yemen 5-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) to fire an ominous warning to their Asian Cup title rivals.

The former Real Madrid boss praised his players for "suffocating" the Group D minnows in Abu Dhabi as they ruined the war-torn country's first outing at the Asian Cup.

But his mood turned dark when informed former national coach Branko Ivankovic, now in charge of Iran's most popular club Persepolis and a feuding adversary, had been talking up Iraq's coach Srecko Katanec while goading Queiroz to beat their bitter rivals.

"Now we turn to home affairs," sighed the Portuguese, who has frequently clashed with football officials and local media since taking the job in 2011.

"This is the gentleman who used to call Iranian football a circus," added Queiroz, putting the boot into Croatian Ivankovic after dominating their opening Asian Cup fixture.

"At the moment, 65 to 70 million people across Iran are praying for the national team, this intelligent man comes along to praise Iraq and its coach - brilliant, genius!"

Mehdi Taremi scored twice for Iran, who are looking to end a 43-year title drought since last winning Asian football's most coveted prize.

Joint-favourites with South Korea, Iran took just 12 minutes to take the lead as Taremi finished clinically from close range, after a shot from Sardar Azmoun was fumbled by Yemen keeper Saoud Al Sowadi.

Captain Ashkan Dejagah doubled his side's lead in the 23rd minute with a low free-kick which cannoned in off the post and the hapless Al Sowadi before Taremi powered home a header moments later.

Azmoun tapped in a fourth goal seven minutes into the second half, by which time Iran were playing some champagne football, pulling off extravagant flicks that left Yemen's players chasing shadows.

When substitute Saman Ghoddos volleyed home Iran's fifth from the edge of the box after 78 minutes the Yemen players looked physically shattered.

"Fortunately for us, the first goal came early and when you score early, it gives you the confidence and tranquillity to control the game," said Queiroz, who has been linked with the Colombia job.

Meanwhile, 2007 champions Iraq came back twice to defeat Vietnam 3-2 last night. - AFP

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