Iran aim to maintain unbeaten streak
30 Aug 2017 - 1:38
Tehran: The head coach of Iran’s national football team Carlos Queiroz said the country plans to maintain its unbeaten streak against South Korea.
“South Korea are one of Asia’s most powerful teams. It will be a good opportunity for us to learn and to continue our progress,” Queiroz was quoted as saying by Tehran Times on Sunday, reported Xinhua news agency.
Iran, having already booked their berth in the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, will face South Korea at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday in an Asian zone qualifier before playing Syria at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium on September 5.
Queiroz’s side have had the upper hand against the Taeguk Warriors lately, winning their last meeting 1-0 in the Asian zone qualifications.
“I’ve never lost a game to South Korea yet and we are going to keep our unbeaten record against them. We will do our best in this match,” he said.
“Iran will not defend against South Korea and we will display our best performance. Team Melli have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup but we are going to defeat South Korea because I believe that the best way for learning is victory,” he added. Iran have sparked a war of words in South Korea after complaining about the state of their training pitch ahead of Thursday’s crucial World Cup Asia zone qualifier. With the visitors already having secured their place as Group A winners and only the runner-up sure to join them in Russia, the heat is all on the Koreans who could face a potential winner-takes-all clash in their final match against third-placed Uzbekistan in Tashkent next week.
Meanwhile Queiroz ramped up the pressure-cooker atmosphere on Monday by claiming that the training pitch in Incheon, 27 kilometres west of Seoul, was not up to the standard of a nation that hosted the World Cup with Japan in 2002.
“The quality of the grass is not good,” Queiroz said according to the Korean media.
“It is not what you expect from a country that has hosted the World Cup,” added the former Real Madrid coach.
South Korea head coach Shin Tae-Yong said he would not get involved in pre-match mind games but retorted: “People know how we were treated when we visited Iran last year.
“I don’t want to engage in his psychological game. I think they’re getting good treatment here.”
Last October, South Korea lost 1-0 in Tehran, a fourth successive defeat at the hands of Queiroz, when the Taeguk Warriors were also unhappy with the state of their training pitch and at their base being located too far away from the stadium.
And the row is just the latest in a long history of ugly spats between the two nations.
Four years ago the then Korea coach Choi Kang-Hee complained of substandard Tehran training facilities and declared he would enjoy eliminating Iran from the 2014 World Cup in the return match in Seoul.
Queiroz demanded an apology saying Choi had “humiliated the Iranian citizens.”
Instead of apologising, Choi predicted that Queiroz would watch the World Cup on television. When Iran won 1-0 in Seoul to qualify, Queiroz was accused of making rude gestures towards the opposition dugout and the Iranian players were pelted with water bottles by the home crowd.
Prior to that, in 2009, Iranian captain Javad Nekounam had predicted that the Azadi Stadium in Tehran would be “like hell for the Koreans” ahead of a World Cup 2010 qualifier.