Iran coach hopes Asian Cup win will unite country

Posted Jan. 14, 2011, at 9:30 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 14, 2011, at 4:55 p.m.

DOHA, Qatar — Iran coach Afshin Ghotbi says his team wants to win the Asian Cup title so it will be “a source of inspiration” for the divided Persian nation.

Iran defeated Iraq in its opening Group D match and will play North Korea on Saturday.

Ghotbi compared Iran’s ambition at this year’s continental championship to Iraq’s win in 2007. Sectarian violence had raged across Iraq but the soccer victory united Iraqis in celebration.

Ghotbi says his players are “very, very motivated” by the challenge to do the same for Iran.

Iran has been in political turmoil since the opposition crackdown following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

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