Bahrain has barely made an impact at previous Asian Cups, having only made it past the group stage in 2004, however, it has proven a tricky opponent during World Cup qualifying and cruised though the qualifying stage for Australia 2015.
COACH: Marjan Eid (BHR)
CAPTAIN: Mohamed Husain (Al Nassr/KSA)
NICKNAME: Al Ahmar (The Reds)
ASIAN CUP APPEARANCES: 4 (1988, 2004, 2007, 2011)
BEST FINISH: Fourth (2004)
FIFA RANKING: 110
AFC RANKING: 12
HOW IT QUALIFIED: Finished a point clear of Qatar in Group D, and didn’t lose a single match along the way.
RECENT FORM: Failed to win a match at the Gulf Cup before it saw off an understrength Saudi Arabia side 4-1 in its only official pre-Asian Cup hit-out.
MAIN MAN: Fauzi AAISH (Al Sailiya/QAT)
One of just three professional players in the Bahrain squad, the Moroccan-born central midfielder has a reputation as a general in the centre of the park, a good tackler and distributor and a calming presence.
ONE TO WATCH: Sami AL HUSAINI (Al Busaiteen)
Exciting attacking midfielder who was originally plucked from a local club team and thrust into the national set-up.
With the exception of Palestine, few nations enter the tournament – on paper at least – with as little expectation as Bahrain.
A tiny nation with barely a million citizens it has often punched above its weight – narrowly missing out on a place at the 2010 World Cup - without a professional league structure to rely on.
Only three players from this squad are fully professional and the others have to work day jobs to get by – many finding employment in the public sector with the army or police forces.
Its highly-rated coach Antony Hudson left to take up a posting in New Zealand and the man now in charge is the youngest at the tournament – 35 year-old Marjan Eid.
If there is one area of strength for the squad it lies in a handful of talented attacking players – led by left winger Abdulwahab Al Malood and playmaker Sami Al Husaini while Nigerian-raised striker Jaycee John had a brief stint in European club football with clubs in Belgium and Turkey.
Drawn in probably the toughest group at the tournament, Bahrain is unlikely to offer even nuisance value against UAE, Qatar and Iran and should finish bottom of the section.
PREDICITION: GROUP STAGE
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP: 4-2-3-1
GOALKEEPERS: 1. Sayed JAFFER (Al Muharraq); 21. Hamed Al Doseri (Al Riffa); 22. Ashraf WAHEED (Manama)
DEFENDERS: 2. Mohamed HUSAIN (AL Nassr/KSA); 3. Waleed AL HAYAM (Al Muharraq); 5. Abdulla SHALAL (Al Riffa); 6. Abdulla YASER (Al Muharraq); 13. Abdulla AL HAZA’A (East Riffa); 17. Hussain BABA (Al Muharraq); 18. Mohamed DUAIJ (Riffa); 23. Rashed AL HOOTI (Al Riffa)
MIDFIELDERS: 4. Sayed SAEED (Al Riffa); 7. Abdulwahad ALI (Al Muharraq); 8. Sayed AHMED (Al Riffa); 9. Abdulwahab AL MALOOD (Al Hidd); 12. Fauzi AAISH (Al Sailiya/QAT); 15. Abdulla OMAR (Al Muharraq); 20. Sami AL HUSAINI (Al Busaiteen)
FORWARDS: 10. Mohammed TAYED (Al Riffa); 11. Ismail ABDULLATIF (Al Muharraq); 14. Jaycee JOHN (Al Mesaimeer/QAT); 16. Abdulla YUSUF (East Riffa); 19. Faisal ABUDAHOOM (East Riffa)
GROUP C FIXTURES:
Sunday 11 January 2015
Iran v Bahrain, Melbourne
Thursday 15 January 2015
Bahrain v United Arab Emirates, Canberra
Monday 19 January 2015
Qatar v Bahrain, Sydney