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Iran in Asian Games 2018 Jakarta
Iran’s delegation will arrive at Jakarta’s Asian Games with eyes set firmly on a move back into the continent’s leading quartet of sporting nations. Iran’s upward trajectory since the 2002 Busan Games stalled at Incheon four years ago when the Iranians finished fifth on the medal table but the Persian Gulf state’s officials are confident of another push forward in Indonesia, Reuters reported. “Iran has improved a lot in the previous editions,” chef de mission Nasrollah Sajjadi told local media. “There is still room for improvement but the countries, namely Kazakhstan, India, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) have also improved in the recent years.” Combat sports provided the bulk of the country’s 57-medal haul in 2014, with the wrestling powerhouse taking six golds and 12 medals in total in the men’s events. Hassan Yazdani made a step up in weight class following his gold medal win at the Rio Olympics but still claimed the world championship in Paris last year, marking him favorite to win the 86kg division in freestyle wrestling. In Incheon, Iran took seven medals, including four golds, in taekwondo, while karate provided another three golds and five medals in all. The delegation will hope for similar returns in Jakarta. Sport climbing, introduced for the Jakarta Games ahead of its 2020 Olympic debut in Tokyo, could also yield gold for Iran in the speed climbing event, where fireman Reza Alipour holds the world record. The Iranians are also Asian Games champions in the men’s volleyball and have a strong legacy in men’s football, having won gold on four occasions. Zlatko Kranjcar’s footballers will look to end a drought that extends back to 2002. Sajjadi said Iran would be content with a return to the top four, tipping Japan to finish second behind dominant China. The host could yet prove a threat to Iran’s ambitions, however. “We should consider the fact that the host Indonesia is eying its best ever place in this edition,” he said. “They want to finish the Games in the fourth place.” Goalless opener Iran started its campaign at the football competitions of the Games with a goalless draw against continental rival Saudi Arabia in Group F on Wednesday. Saudi Arabia, quarterfinalist in the 2014 Asian Games, put early pressure on its opponent as the Saudis attacked Iran’s defense and Haroune Moussa Camara came close when his effort hit the post in the sixth minute, the-afc.com reported. Iran found itself in trouble again in the 14th minute but Awn Muylaq Alsaluli’s free-kick was off the mark. The Green Falcons had the better chances to score but were denied by Iran’s keeper Mehdi Amini, who made crucial saves in the 36th and 37th minute. Four-time Asian Games champion, however, continued to struggle in front of goal as the first half ended goalless. Iran performed better after the restart as its passing improved but Mohammad Moslemipour and Mehdi Qa’edi wasted golden opportunities in front of goal. Iran will face DPR Korea on Friday while Saudi Arabia will take on Myanmar.

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