HONG KONG (Reuters) – The return of Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz has threatened to destabilize Iran’s preparations for a third consecutive World Cup, but the re-hiring of the Portuguese coach has become stale. He gave the team that had been transformed into an impetus to strike the final blow to history.
In their last five World Cup campaigns Iran had never made it past the group phase, but hopes their disappointing record might be broken after joining the group alongside England, Wales and the United States. is rising.
Queiroz regained his managerial position in mid-September, replacing Dragan Skocic, after the Iranian Football Federation’s tough presidential elections, which saw the Croatian player expelled and his eligibility guaranteed, took over.
The former Real Madrid and Portugal coach is looking to rekindle the relationship with the team he nurtured during his previous eight-year tenure, and signs that little has changed for the 69-year-old are clear from the start.
In September’s friendly matches against Uruguay and Senegal, Queiroz selected 16 players from a 23-man squad for the 2018 final in Russia.
As a result, Team Meri narrowly missed out on a place in the knockout rounds, leaving Queiroz and company determined to take another step forward in Qatar.
However, off-field issues can pose a significant distraction for Iranians.
Meetings with Britain and the United States would be politically charged at home, but protests against women’s rights in Iran had a psychological impact on a team divided by the controversy over Queiroz’s rehiring.
The games against Uruguay and Senegal in September showed all the hallmarks of Queiroz’s side.
The Iranian defense worked hard to keep Uruguayan strikers Darwin Nunez and Luis Suárez in check, with Mehdi Taremi coming off the bench to start the move and score Austria’s only goal.
Taremi, who has risen to prominence with Porto over the past two seasons, has carried much of Iran’s attacking threat and can be used alone or in tandem with Bayer Leverkusen’s Sardar Azmon.
Former Brighton & Hove Albion winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh has also seen his talents seen by British football fans during his three-season tenure in the Premier League as Iran look to break new ground at the World Cup. I want to prove that I wasn’t able to perform at my full potential.
Reporting by Michael Church, Hong Kong; Editing by Ken Ferris
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