Iran will take on the United Arab Emirates in the final Group C match of the Asian Cup.
Carlos Queiroz's troops and The Whites are level on six points atop the group after both sides managed to win their previous two group games, sealing qualification into the quarter-finals in the process.
However, things are far from over and both sides will be aiming to secure top spot.
You can follow all the action live here on Sport360.com.
Saudi Arabia’s caretaker coach Cosmin Olaroiu said he’s spending as much time acting as a psychiatrist to his players as imparting tactical wisdom at the Asian Cup.
The Romanian said strengthening the mentality of the Saudi players was one of his biggest challenges as the three-time champions look to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.
“Improving the psychology of the players is a very important part of my job,” he said on the eve of their crunch Group B clash with Uzbekistan. “You need to build the confidence of the players. Attitude is most important in football.”
Saudi Arabia recovered from a shock 1-0 defeat by China in their opening game by overpowering North Korea 4-1 in midweek, effectively making Sunday’s Melbourne clash against the Uzbekis a knockout game with the Chinese already through.
Uzbekistan reached the semi-finals in 2011 but need a drastic reversal in fortune following a stunning 2-1 defeat by China.
“I don’t think we underestimated China,” said Uzbekistan coach Mirdjalal Kasimov. “We just made silly mistakes and we paid for them.”
Meanwhile, Alain Perrin, the coach of China, chose to dampen expectations on the eve of their final group game against North Korea.
He said: “I think our team are not the best at this tournament. But even although we are not the best we will challenge and try to beat our opponents.”
BRISBANE, Australia — The equation for the United Arab Emirates is simple in their final Group C match against Iran in Brisbane – secure a point and finish top of the group.
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The task, however, is far from easy for coach Mahdi Ali and his charges – facing up against Asia’s top-ranked side and one of the pre-tournament favourites.
“Any game we play, we try to do our best and try to show our quality and how we have reached our level,” Ali said.
“Of course the game is a very strong game against Iran, at the moment they are the No.1 ranked team in Asia. It is very important for our team to make a positive result, to give the players motivation for upcoming matches.”
“All the players are fit, we don’t have any injured players, but there will be some minor changes to the team.”
— AFC Asian Cup (@afcasiancup) January 19, 2015
While a draw will confirm top spot for coach Ali’s team – and avoiding a likely quarterfinal clash with powerhouse Japan – the UAE will have to overcome a dire record against Iran if they are to secure the vital point they need.
In 15 meetings against Team Melli, the UAE have won only once – a 3-1 win in Abu Dhabi in 1997.
However, Ali said he would take no heed of the history books, instead focusing on taking a positive mindset into the clash.
“You cannot compare the past with our current situation, because the competition is different, the players are different, the coach is different, the level of our team is completely different,” he said.
“For us, we think about being positive and trying to do our best, which I think is the most important. We can’t predict the future but we can do our best to achieve what we want.”
What may hinder the UAE’s pursuit of a positive result is the state of the Brisbane Stadium pitch, which was last week labelled a “disgrace” by Australia forward Robbie Kruse ahead of the host nation’s clash with South Korea.
Ali admitted the surface was far from ideal, but said his side would make the best of the situation.
“(The pitch) is disappointing, but this is the situation and we have to adapt to it,” he said. “This is fair, both teams didn’t train on the field and we will try to do our best to adapt to this situation.
“We hoped to train here and hoped to have a better field, because one of the objectives of the AFC is to have 60 minutes of play and to improve the football.
“There are many ways to do that and one of the main things to have a factor in this is the field.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz, fresh from an Asian Football Confederation fine for criticising referees, was reticent to put forward an opinion on the state of the playing surface and while he hinted at changes to his starting eleven for the match, refused to show his hand.
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) January 16, 2015
“I trust all the 23 players, you can’t play this competition with just ten players,” Queiroz said. “Especially for one game we don’t have to take all the risks, and we have a couple of knocks and a couple of situations in the team we need to take into consideration.
“I think tomorrow, in my opinion, we play the best west Asian team. They have played together for many years, since under-17, and some of the players could play with each other with eyes closed – they know exactly where the others are, what they do, what they can expect.”