January 7 – Iran coach Carlos Queiroz showed his satisfaction with his team’s 5-0 demolition of Asian Cup debutants Yemen in their opening game, warning that the Asian Cup is not a “cheese cake” before picking a fight with Persepolis coach Branko Ivanković back home.
“It was a typical first game of one competition like the Asian Cup,” reflected Queiroz. “Some players start a little bit nervous, but I think because we tried to put since the beginning high intensity, tempo on the game we start to force the Yemen team immediately to commit some mistakes and step by step we tried to use that situation to our advantage. Fortunately for us the first goal came early. You know that when you score early this gives you the confidence and the tranquility to control the game and carry on until the end. That is exactly what happened.”
Earlier in the competition defending champions Australia were beaten by Jordan 1-0 and South Korea struggled against the Philippines of Sven Goran Eriksson, leaving Iran as the only top team so far to have impressed. After the Yemen result Team Melli’s title credentials have been boosted, but Queiroz emphasised that the Asian Cup is a tough competition that requires a firm focus in every game.
“It is always good to have a result with goals and start with the right motivation confidence, but for us we are still at the beginning,” said Queiroz. “We don’t even pay attention to anything that happens in other groups. That is not part of our business, but the results of Korea, Australia, and even yesterday India against Thailand was a great help for Iran, because I have been preparing my players to be focused on the first game. With my experience, what the first game is all about. The results are there.
“The results are proving that if you don’t play with full concentration and determination every single team can beat another team. There are no favorites in the first game. So it was good that we didn’t play in the first day, so we take advantage of these good lessons, not only for our players, but ourselves in the staff, but also to make people understand – to play the Asian Cup is not cheesecake. It is a tough competition: game by game injuries, yellow cards, players tired, mental fatigue.”
But the sting in Queiroz’s press talk came at the end when an Iranian journalist asked his opinion about Persepolis coach’s Branko Ivanković’s supportive statements of Iraq and their coach Srecko Katanec – Iraq face Iran will face later in the Group stages.
“Regarding that gentleman, all of us in Iran, all the fans know everything about everything about him,” said Queiroz in a sarcastic tone. “This the gentleman that used to call Iranian football a circus. He always called Iranian football a circus and the moment 65-70 million people are praying for the national team comes this intelligent man to praise Iraq and the coach.
“Really, a very intelligent person, this one that is serving Iranian football. Only a person that is a genius is able to praise Iraq and its coach at the moment 65 million people are praying for the national team. Brilliant! It is genius. It can only be a genius.
“With all the expertise, the guy is a genius and with all the support he receives from the government, exclusively for his team, jeopardising the national team and all the other clubs I am surprised he didn’t win the Champions League, because they should win the Champions League, but when it is time for him to win he doesn’t know how to do it. He is more focused on the Ukrainian players business, that is his expertise and leave the genius alone.”
The feud between Queiroz and Brankovic isn’t new and in the build-up to Iran’s opening game Queiroz had already voiced his frustration over the upheaval back home and he asked the president of the Iranian FA to protect the team “from the people who want to distract us from whatever our primary goal is” and from those whom he labelled “crocodiles”.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1594491773labto1594491773ofdlr1594491773owedi1594491773sni@o1594491773fni1594491773