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Hankooki - South Korean Olympic football head coach Kim Ho-kon said on Monday that after getting a close look at Iran he believes the team will prove to be tougher opponents than highly-touted China.

``It seems like Iran are stronger than China,'' Kim said after watching a friendly between Iran and Japan at Saitama Stadium in Japan on Sunday night. ``Throughout the game, the Iranian players outmuscled their Japanese opponents. Their combative spirit was great.''

Iran, China and Malaysia are South Korea's Group A opponents in the final round of the Asian qualifiers for a ticket to Athens.

``I think the playmaker who wears number 10 (Eman Mobali) is the most threatening player,'' Kim told Yonhap News Agency. ``My assistant coach Lee Sang-chul and I have the same idea that those are the starters (for the Asian qualifiers). They even dominated the second half.''

Sota Hirayama, making his first start for Japan's Olympic side, opened the scoring after 19 minutes. But 16 minutes after the break , Mobali equalized and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.

``On the technical side, Iran have a good balance between attacking and defending,'' Kim said. ``Attackers are actively participating in defensive plays, while those at the back are using their bodies to check the opponents. Their intense defending will give any team a hard time.''

Kim's team will have a match against China in Seoul on March 3 and then take on Iran in Teheran on March 17.

Moroccan manager Madih Mustafa recently praised China, saying, ``In terms of organization and technique, China are indeed better than Korea.'' Morocco recently beat South Korea, but later lost to China.

The final round of the Asian qualifiers will take place from March 3 to May 12 with each group being played on a league basis. The four teams in each group will play each other twice with the group winners advancing to Athens.

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