Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has defended his side’s defensive tactics after they were booed off by the Brazilian public following their 0-0 draw with Nigeria in Curitiba on Monday.
Queiroz’s mens’ preparations for the tournament have been undermined by international sanctions against the Iranian government that has seen their funding cut and made it difficult to organise friendlies against top international opposition.
And with 14 of his 23-man squad based in the domestic Irani league, Queiroz hailed his side’s efforts and said fans had to be realistic of the spectacle they could offer.
“The spectators maybe didn’t see it this way, but in football when you play with attitude, soul, emotions, tension it can also be an attractive game and that is what happened,” said the former Real Madrid boss.
“Of course you would prefer to see four or five goals and I understand that, but for us we prefer to go home with one point.
“We come from a nation that doesn’t have the same facilities. We don’t have players from the biggest teams. Instead they showed they are honest players for 90 minutes with concentration and hard work so they deserve to celebrate.
“We cannot even play friendly games under the economic problems.
“I hope that after playing against a great team like Nigeria our players get the sympathy and respect they deserve.”
Iran coped ably against Nigeria’s Premier League stars as the African champions failed to create any clear-cut chances after a promising opening.
But Queiroz, who guided Portugal to the last 16 in the 2010 finals, claimed he hasn’t had time yet to think of how to stop four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and his Argentine teammates when the sides meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
“We managed to frustrate the football of Nigeria for the first 20 minutes and then we had to stop their stars who began to take it upon themselves to make the game,” said the 61-year-old Mozambique-born Portuguese coach.
“It is very hard to stop (John Obi) Mikel, (Victor) Moses, (Peter) Odemwingie etc.
“But step-by-step we defended very well. We played a realistic game and we always had the intention to score a goal. In the end it was a draw. That was a fair result because nobody deserved to win the game.
“Now I am so tired I just want to enjoy this point we have achieved. We will have time to think about our next game against Argentina in the coming days.”
Nigerian boss Stephen Keshi, meanwhile, admitted his side lacked the patience to break down Iran’s stubborn ranks of defence after their plan to get an early goal never transpired.
“There was a lot of anxiety. My players tried to finish the game in the first 25 minutes, but when the goal didn’t come I think we pushed a bit too hard and frustrations starting to come in,” he said.
“I am not happy, but we have to give respect to Iran. They came in, they had their gameplan, they sat back and they did it well.”
Nigeria face Bosnia and Herzegovina next in a game that could go a long way to deciding who is likely to finish second in the group behind Argentina.
And Keshi retains hope despite failing to pick up the three points in their easiest game in the group on paper.
“We saw what happened with Costa Rica and with Holland and Spain, so in football you can never tell. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn’t.
“Just because we didn’t win people think we played badly. I don’t think we played badly, it was just that we didn’t score the goals we needed.”