Abu Dhabi: After seeing his side qualify for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 quarter-finals, Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz has been quick to praise the team spirit he believes played a major part in the success.
Iran beat Oman 2-0 on Sunday to claim their place in the last eight, an impressive display which followed goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand’s superb penalty save in the opening moments of the game.
While grateful for his towering custodian’s contribution, Queiroz believes the unwavering unity which exists within the Iranian squad was, however, just as decisive a factor.
“It was a very good and competitive game, although I think it is the first time in my life that I have seen a team concede a penalty so early on. It was a great save from Beiranvand that kept us in the game,” declared the Portuguese tactician.
“When a player performs well [such as Alireza did], it gives you more confidence. The early save undoubtedly helped us maintain our clean sheet, but all the players played their part in the victory.
“Every player in the team knows their role and they know their responsibilities, they are always there at the right moment to support their teammates. Everyone plays for the team.”
Iran are now set to face China PR in the last eight, with Queiroz, who is expecting another tough test, calling on his charges to develop a far more ruthless streak in the final third.
“We know how much the China team has progressed, especially under [head coach] Marcello Lippi. It will be another difficult game, as will all the matches going forward.
“We cannot waste chances like we did against Oman, we must play with a killer instinct and we need to put the ball in the net,” he said.
“In knockout football it is important to kill the game early, it gives you a tremendous advantage. The most important thing for the next game is to be calmer, to be smarter.”
Meanwhile, opposite number Pim Verbeek, although still optimistic about the future of his side, was quick to admit that Oman were, on the day, beaten by a better team.
“We knew that Iran were the number one side in Asia and that they were stronger than us, so we did everything that was possible to get a result,” he said.
“We gave at least one unlucky goal away and I am not talking about the penalty which we missed early on.
“In the second half, we tried everything to score a goal and come back from 2-0 down, but Iran kept us under control. We are disappointed of course that we lost, but Iran were the better team.
“We had a fantastic tournament and we should not be ashamed that we lost to a team such as Iran. The team has a future as, even though we are a small country, we have talent.”