Preview: Iran-Wales is a do-or-die fixture-Xinhua

Preview: Iran-Wales is a do-or-die fixture

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2022-11-24 23:38:45

TEHRAN, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- Iran and Wales will face off in their second Group B game at Qatar's Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Friday, as a win is badly needed for both sides' qualification for the World Cup knockout stages.

Although Wales salvaged a 1-1 draw against the USA, the Dragons know that any result other than a victory over bottom-placed Iran could shatter their dream of advancing to the round of 16, as the squad will have to array against the formidable side of England in its last match in Group B.

In the meantime, England's 6-2 rout of Iran drew widespread criticism from fans and experts, leaving the Asian team with no option but a win over Wales to placate them and keep alive its hope of cruising into the knockout stages for the first time.

Iran's Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz, who has faced growing pressure over refusing to field regulars from the very beginning of the opener against England, is expected to wean himself off the defending style and shift from a cagey play to an attacking football.

Farhad Kazemi, an Iranian coach-cum-expert, told Varzesh3, a top sports website in the country, that Iran would not concede such a drubbing if anybody but Queiroz were the manager.

"The conditions will not change as far as we will not gain self-confidence," opined Kazemi, blaming Queiroz's fear for Iran's failure to overcome other teams.

Those teams which have pinned their hopes on flukes are doomed to failure, assured the veteran coach.

"A coward dies a thousand deaths," screamed the headline of an analysis on the Iran-Wales match by Khabar Varzeshi, a leading sports newspaper in Iran.

"Iran must be plucky and play sensibly," continued the article.

The article called on Queiroz to choose a better starting lineup and avoid fielding a number of defensive players.

The paper urged the head coach to pick those who have been frequently fielded and have played a more coordinated football.

Citing Argentina's stunning 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia, it wrote, "Iran is not better than Argentina and needs to compensate for the defeat, as Argentineans are planning to do the same."

Talking to the official news agency IRNA on Wednesday, Sports Minister Seyyed Hamid Sajjadi described Friday's match against Wales as the most important for the country.

"If we lose three points on Friday, the match against the USA will be ineffective for us," noted the minister and added, "In case of a stalemate, there will be ifs and buts and we have to wait for other teams' results and our game with Americans. But a victory over Wales will make us hopeful and encourage our team to play a great game against the USA."

"So, we have two golden opportunities," said the minister, expressing hope that Iran would overcome Wales by choosing a new lineup at the stadium in the Qatari capital Doha.

So, Friday is the deciding day and all football lovers of the four Group B-bound teams are eagerly waiting for the results.

Empowered by world-class players in different positions, England is seeking to lift the trophy of the world's most prestigious and popular sporting event.

Wales, which is at its first World Cup since 1958, extracted a point from its game against the USA and has a burning ambition to make history.

The Asian powerhouse is resolved to regain its prestige after a bad start and break the jinx and advance to the knockout stages for the first time.