After days of political tensions between the two countries and furious off-pitch jibes, The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) in the World Cup has already reached the knockout stage. If they face Iran in a winner-takes-all match, a win on Tuesday is enough.
Whichever team wins will reach the round of 16 at Qatar 2022, and for the USMNT, even a draw will eliminate them from the tournament.
It would be a match with political tensions, as the two countries have not had formal diplomatic relations since April 1980 as a result of Iran’s occupation of the US embassy after the Islamic Revolution in November 1979.
Leading up to the match, Iranian state media called for the US to kick the US out of the 2022 World Cup after US Soccer changed the Iranian flag on its social media accounts to show support for protesters in Iran. rice field.
The U.S. Football Association told CNN it wanted to change the official flag for 24 hours to show “support for Iranian women fighting for their basic human rights” but had always planned to revert to the original flag. Told.
USMNT manager Greg Berhalter has eschewed these political undercurrents, stating that his focus is solely on football.
“Football is about meeting different people from all over the world, united by a common love for the sport,” Verhalter told reporters after the England game.
“I see the game being hotly contested not for political reasons but for the fact that both teams want to advance to the next round.
“We’re footballers, we’re trying to compete, and they’re just trying to compete.”
Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz said at a press conference on Monday that the USMNT is the best team in the World Cup group, but he did not hesitate to make thinly veiled criticism directed at the United States.
“When we talk about human rights, racism, and children dying in schools from shootings, we stand in solidarity with all those causes. That’s our mission,” he said.
So far, USMNT has tied both games. 1-1 against Wales, who took the lead in the second half, and 0-0 against England, his side full of superstars.
Against England, the USMNT’s young ‘Golden Generation’ faced their biggest test yet, appearing the more intimidating of the two teams for most of the match before holding firm against late-game pressure from England. I confronted.
There were many bright spots for the United States in that game.
They showed their tactical flexibility by switching to a 4-4-2 formation and held up defense in the first shutout of a European opponent in a World Cup since 1950. Pulisic was the creative playmaker his team needed.
USMNT are currently ranked four ahead of Iran in the FIFA world rankings but are wary of opponents who continued their World Cup hopes after a dramatic 2-0 win over Wales on Friday. I will.
Iran scored both goals in the second half of stoppage time after Welsh goalkeeper Wayne Hennessy received a red card. The first goal was a superb strike from Rouzbe Ceshmi in the 98th minute and the second was Ramin Lezaian’s chip against substitute goalkeeper Danny Ward.
The result puts Iran’s World Cup back on track, somewhat derailed by a 6-2 loss to England in its opening match, and showcases the talent contained in a side looking to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time. showed signs of that historical time.
Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz said after Wales’ game, “Now we need to make sure we have enough strength to advance to the second round,” Reuters reported.
“As we saw against Wales, the United States is also a great team.
“Our preparation begins with a good rest, refreshing our minds, clearing our minds of all complementary and unnecessary things, and focusing on our goals. to the Iranian fans.”
Iran has been in a state of internal turmoil following widespread protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died after being detained by Iran’s moral police for failing to follow Iran’s conservative dress code. Appearing in tournaments under the shadows. Since then, Iranian security forces have unleashed a violent response to the protests.
During Iran’s national anthem playing before their first match against England on Monday, Iranian players stood in silence in what is widely interpreted as a show of solidarity with those protesting in their home country, but the players sang the national anthem in their second game against Wales. , albeit in an unobtrusive way.
Earlier this week, a source involved with the game’s security made a shocking admission. The Iranian player’s family has been threatened with imprisonment and torture if the player fails to “behave” before Tuesday’s game against the United States.
After refusing to sing the national anthem in the opening match against England, sources said the players were called to a meeting with members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, where their families “will face violence and torture.” They said. If they do not sing the national anthem or participate in political protests against the Tehran regime.
Fans also weigh heavily on the domestic situation in Iran. Monday’s match between Portugal and Uruguay saw Pitch Invader wave his rainbow flag on the field of his iconic Lusail stadium and read ‘SAVE UKRAINE’ with ‘RESPECT FOR IRANIAN WOMAN’ written on his back. temporarily suspended, wearing a t-shirt. front.
In another Group B fixture, England are looking to secure a near-certain spot in the knockout stage against Wales.
If England beat Wales, the USMNT would qualify for second place in their group if they beat Iran. On the other hand, if England lose, the USMNT will finish first.
The Netherlands is the most likely candidate for second place, and Ecuador or Senegal for first place.
Netherlands v Qatar: 10 PM ET
Ecuador vs Senegal: 10pm ET
Wales v England: 2pm ET
Iran vs. USA: 2pm ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Brazil: Sports TV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC