AFC - Ali Daei is confident Islamic Republic of Iran will win the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 title.
The legendary Daei, who will play a starring role in the Final Draw of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the Armani Hotel in the iconic Burj Khalifa on Friday, explained his conviction:
"Iran have been Asia's top team for the last few years for a reason - the consistency of the technical team.
"There have been very few changes in the technical team's set up and the stability has allowed coach Carlos Queiroz to focus on building a formidable squad.
"Queiroz has also looked far and wide for the best players and this has had a positive effect on the national team," said the former Iran captain.
Iran are Asia's top side in the FIFA World Ranking and were also the first team from the Continent to seal a place in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, confirming their place last June.
They finished the FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifiers unbeaten and Daei is expecting the form to be carried into the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, with Iran lifting the trophy.
The last of Iran's three triumphs in the AFC Asian Cup was in 1976, meaning that it will be 43 years since they last won the title by the time the action in UAE 2019 kicks off in January.
"I am confident that Iran will win this time around. We have always been a force to be reckoned with in the AFC Asian Cup but the recent results give me confidence that we will win the title for the fourth time," said Daei.
The AFC Asian Cup may have eluded Daei as a player but it is a tournament which is dear to his heart as it paved the way for his big move to Germany in 1996.
In emerging topscorer in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, also hosted by the United Arab Emirates, Daei hit four of his tournament haul of eight goals in the 6-2 win over Korea Republic in the quarter-finals.
"There was a Korean player who was playing in Germany at that time and he convinced several coaches to scout for players during the 1996 AFC Asian Cup.
"The four goals I scored in that match played a pivotal role in me signing for Arminia Bielefeld."
His stay in Germany also saw stints with Bayern Munich and Hertha BSC.
Plying his trade in Europe brought much success to one of Iran's prodigal footballing sons and Daei is hoping that come the AFC Asian Cup 2019, not only will more of his compatriots secure moves to the big European leagues but Iran lift a long overdue title.
"I missed a penalty in the semi-final against Saudi Arabia and we lost but I know that it can be different this time around."