Carlos Queiroz opened up about what he’s signing up for in September when he agreed to return to his former role as coach of the Iran national team, three years after completing his first eight-year term. I had a pretty good idea. Three months of work culminating in the World Cup. Or at least he thought so.
It was marketed to politically sensitive groups in Qatar alongside the United States, England and Wales.Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran’s relations with the United States and Britain have been mostly hostile.Diplomat made sure Iran’s World Cup campaign ran as smoothly as possible.
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But within days of his return to Iran, protests over the death of Masa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing a headscarf properly, escalated and engulfed the country. started.
Almost two months have passed and the situation remains precarious. Women continue to protest the regime by refusing to cut their hair and wear headscarves, and past and present Iranian footballers post posts supporting demands for greater rights for women and society I am participating in social media protests at.
Outside Iran, voices are calling for Team Meri (Iran’s nickname for the Iranian national team) to be kicked out of the World Cup due to allegations that the country is supplying Russia with military equipment to support its aggression. is issued from Ukraine. Ukraine.
As a national team coach, Queiroz is one of Iran’s footballing frontrunners, but the former Real Madrid coach and Sir Alex Ferguson’s longtime assistant at Manchester United is a topic that is currently consuming Iran. chose to avoid Training in Tehran last week at his camp, when asked about the ongoing protests and unrest in the country, many inside Iran also said they wanted their team to become the face of the Islamic regime. Queiroz chose to avoid his remarks when suggested not to. opinion about the situation.
When ESPN spoke to Queiroz during a training break in Vienna, Austria, in late September ahead of friendly games against Uruguay and Senegal, he said: at the 2022 World Cup. ”
Amini’s protests have already begun, and unrest within the Iranian camp has resulted in ESPN and other Western media being barred from attending Uruguay’s match at St. Polten before the U-turn on match day. Iran’s concerns over the protests at the match proved well-founded and supporters were expelled by Austrian police for displaying banners bearing Amini’s name.
Asked for his opinion on the situation in Iran, Mr. Queiroz replied, “I’m not thinking about it.”
His position was clear. He talked about football and Iran’s prospects in Qatar, but everything else was off limits. The 69-year-old defied the Iranian Football Federation pecking order by even agreeing to speak to ESPN, but it was nevertheless only a football question.
The situation in Iran has escalated rather than calmed down since mid-September, but the World Cup is just a week away, with Iran set to face England in its opening match at Khalifa Stadium on 21 November. Here are Queiroz’s take on the group in its final Group B match against United States on November 29 at Alhe’s Tumama Stadium.
ESPN: Iran, despite being 20th in the FIFA World Rankings behind Wales (19th) and USA (16th), have been withdrawn as hopeless players in their group.
Cairos: I never have. I don’t think that way because I don’t care what other people think of us. We have strengths and qualities, and of course some weaknesses, as all teams do. Nobody is perfect. At the right time, it’s time to speak on the pitch.
Those sentiments and comments don’t count. But at the end of the day, what matters in the game is putting in a great performance, playing good football, and leaving the result in God’s hands. That’s what we can do.
Mark Ogden analyzes the USMNT draw for the World Cup. There, they will play against England, IR Iran and European qualifiers.
ESPN: Iran have never made it past the group stage in a World Cup, so what are the expectations in Qatar?
Cairos: For me, it’s not bad to feel pressure to increase our responsibilities, motivations and obligations. But within the group, our expectations of success are on exactly the same level as everyone else.
We want to move forward, we want to get better and we hope to reach the second stage of the World Cup. We head into our third World Cup with the same beliefs and the same ambitions.
ESPN: The opening game will be against one of the World Cup favorites, England. how strong are they?
Cairos: Just as we are happy to play against Portugal and Spain in Iranian football, we are happy to play against England. This is our life and we are happy to play with the best team in the world. We are striving to be the best team and best player in the world.
So it’s a happy moment to be there for us. We are working all our lives to qualify for the World Cup. And when we go to the World Cup, we go there as minor players, but at the moment we are one of the best 32 national teams in the world, so let’s enjoy it.
ESPN: Having worked in England for Manchester United, I know this country and team are desperate to do well, but I’ve seen them fail too many times.
Cairos: England are the top team. There is no doubt that England have grown in international football with better preparation and a clearer vision over the past few years. It’s clear from the results on the pitch.
But I’m not saying this team is better or that they are the better players from the days of David Beckham and Paul Scholes. It means England has a clear direction and vision for where every player and every team should go. So this creates a much more consistent and competitive team.
But this World Cup is something different as we will be facing a completely new build-up. It’s completely different compared to other World Cups, with short breaks between games and competitions held in November. Europe arriving in Qatar with 15-20 games remaining.
In other World Cups they’ve played 65-70 matches, so let’s see how it goes.
ESPN: The game against the United States is the final game of the group stage and could determine qualification for both teams. You were an MLS coach for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in the 1990s. How do you see the American team and the progress this country has made in football?
Cairos: I see progress, progress in football everywhere. Most people don’t see it, but experts do. The game is on in America. Players think faster and faster and make quick decisions. You should be aware of that.
This happens in all countries as well, including the United States, but year after year they have taken off and are often compared to other continents. . American soccer players are growing rapidly compared to the rest of the world and other continents.
ESPN: Can Iran surprise people at this World Cup?
Cairos: What we expect from the World Cup is great games, great matches and great performances. Iran, England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, America – everyone should be working towards just one goal: to bring joy, happiness and pride to our supporters.