Iran wary of Syria and Qatar threat in FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers

February 19, 2020 - 15:25

TEHRAN - Qualification for the 2021 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup will kick off on Thursday and Iran will meet Syria and Qatar in Tehran’s Azadi Hall on Thursday and Sunday in Group E.

Iran, as one of Asia’s powerhouses, will be wary of the threat posed by Syria and multinational Qatar.

“We don’t take nothing for granted against Syria and Qatar. As you remember, we defeated Qatar in the 2019 World Cup qualifier 77-75 in a difficult match and Syria lost to Team Melli 68-55 in the 2018 Asian Games and these results show that a couple of tough matches are waiting for us,” Iran coach Mehran Shahintab said.

“We’ve trained well for these two matches and our players are well-prepared. Aaron Geramipoor has not been invited for the window and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami suffers an injury and will likely miss the matches but the other players are ready,” he added.

The Iran coach also said they have been invited to the international tournaments and the warm-up competitions will help them get ready for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“We’ve been invited to China for the Stankovic tournament but will not participate in the tournament for the healthy issue. We are invited to a tournament in Japan ahead of the Olympic Games but it will coincide with a tournament in a European country. Armenia have also sent us an invitation for two friendly matches,” Shahintab stated.

A total of 24 countries will take part in the qualifiers – divided into six groups. According to FIBA, the top two teams of each group will secure places at the 2021 Asia Cup. Meanwhile, the third-placed team in each group will battle over the four remaining slots in the tournament.

The qualifiers will run until February next year, as teams play both home and away matches – giving local supporters the opportunity to cheer on their national squads directly during the matches.

The second window of the qualifiers will be held in November, while the last is scheduled for February 2021.

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