Former Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek’s Oman face a near impossible task to overcome Iran as the Asian Cup knockout stage gets underway in the UAE on Sunday.
The Dutchman’s side snuck through the group stage as one of four best-placed third-placed teams whereas Iran cruised through their group without conceding a single goal.
Verbeek has already created history by guiding Oman to the knock-out stage for the first time in four attempts but believes his team can overcome Team Melli in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re not sitting in the hotel saying we achieved everything we wanted to achieve, no, no, no,” Verbeek said.
“This can be a historic game to go to the final eight, that’s our target.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has loftier goals, as Iran attempt to lift the Asian Cup for the first time since 1976.
“The Asian Cup starts now. It’s everything for the winner, nothing for the loser,” the Portuguese said.
“There is no room for mistakes, no room for regrets, there is no room for sorry, no room for tomorrow. It is just here and now.”
Jordan’s reward for topping Australia’s Group B is a clash with Vietnam in Dubai.
Coach Vital Borkelmans’ side haven’t conceded in the tournament and go into the clash with the Vietnamese as favourites after the south-east Asian nation squeaked through the group stages ahead of Lebanon on a yellow card countback.
Sunday’s third knockout match is a clash between aspirant powerhouse China and Thailand in Al Ain.
China’s Italian coach Marcello Lippi said he was content his team had made it through the group stage but the world’s most populous nation has ambitions of becoming a world football power and will expect to progress against the Thais.
The War Elephants – as Thailand’s team are nicknamed – rebounded from a 4-1 loss in their opening match and the sacking of coach Milovan Rajevac to reach the last 16.
Australia play their round of 16 clash against Uzbekistan in Al Ain on Monday, while Japan play Saudi Arabia in Sharjah and the host nation UAE take on Kyrgyzstan in Abu Dhabi.
The second round wraps up on Tuesday with tournament favourites South Korea – along with Tottenham forward Son Heung-min – facing Bahrain while form team Qatar take on Iraq in an all-Middle East affair in Abu Dhabi.