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Queiroz: "The God of Football Will Decide”

June 20, 2018
4 min read
Captan Masoud Shojaei and manager Carlos Queiroz spoke at a press conference in Kazan on June 19
Captan Masoud Shojaei and manager Carlos Queiroz spoke at a press conference in Kazan on June 19
Masoud Shojaei evaded questions about women being banned from stadiums
Masoud Shojaei evaded questions about women being banned from stadiums
Both Shojaei and Queiroz spoke proudly of the opportunity to play Spain
Both Shojaei and Queiroz spoke proudly of the opportunity to play Spain
Queiroz: "I told my players that when the game is over and they go to the locker room, Iranian fans will be proud of them”
Queiroz: "I told my players that when the game is over and they go to the locker room, Iranian fans will be proud of them”
Shojaei and Queiroz at the press conference in Kazan
Shojaei and Queiroz at the press conference in Kazan
Shojaei said it was disappointing that Chesmi had been ruled out of the competition, but that the team had many fine players who could step in
Shojaei said it was disappointing that Chesmi had been ruled out of the competition, but that the team had many fine players who could step in
The press conference took place a day before Iran faces Spain in the World Cup
The press conference took place a day before Iran faces Spain in the World Cup
Shojaei evaded questions about Iran's ban on women attending stadiums
Shojaei evaded questions about Iran's ban on women attending stadiums
Queiroz: "The God of Football Will Decide”
Shojaei outside the press conference
Shojaei outside the press conference
Queiroz outside the press conference
Queiroz outside the press conference
Shojaei and Queiroz took questions from the press on June 19
Shojaei and Queiroz took questions from the press on June 19
Queiroz spoke to journalists a day before Iran's match with Spain
Queiroz spoke to journalists a day before Iran's match with Spain

Spain might control the ball and the game, but it can’t affect the morale of the Iranian team and fighting spirit, Carlos Queiroz told reporters a day ahead of Iran’s match against Spain. Queiroz, the manager of Iran’s national football team, said Iran would never surrender — such behavior would be disrespectful to both football and to the Spanish team, he said. Iran will go out to win, and in the end, “the god of football will decide the outcome.”

Queiroz told the press conference in Kazan, southwest Russia: “Playing against Spain is an honor and a unique opportunity. Our players are happy, enthusiastic and excited. By playing this game, they will learn, they will grow and they will become better. We are not here to play against weak teams. We want to improve ourselves.”

Although he was positive about the game, the head coach was also realistic. “Everybody knows our background and our preparations are not like theirs,” he said, “but whatever happens we will neither make excuses or try to justify it. We fight for our jerseys. Nobody in our team should be blamed and all of us must accept responsibility. I told my players that when the game is over and they go to the locker room, Iranian fans will be proud of them.”

Journalists asked Queiroz about Spanish football’s decision to replace head coach Julen Lopetegui with Fernando Hierro on the eve of the World Cup. “Anybody who follows football knows it is full of surprises and everything changes all the time,” he replied. “I was the one who wanted Fernando Hierro to be a member of the coaching staff of Real Madrid — and he is now my competitor. I know Hierro well and I know that he has many skills and will unite the team. I chose him as a coach and I respect him as a coach, as a player and as a human being.”

The Million Dollar Question

The press also asked Queiroz whether he knew the answer to the “million dollar question” — that is: How can Spain be stopped? He answered that a million dollars would not be enough to answer such a question. “No team or player is perfect,” he said. “Nobody wins beforehand, and this is football’s magic. In football, [any] team could play worse than you [depending on] the conditions. We have nothing to lose. Iran’s national team is getting ready for the Asian Cup and this is a win-win situation for us.”

He spoke of the strength of the Spanish team. “All Spanish players are dangerous and, like the Portuguese and the German teams, the Spanish team has the ability to advance to the highest levels of the World Cup. To me, it is important that our players be strong, optimistic and focused. Tomorrow we will try to play a good game and we know that we must be at our best. We must grab every chance. It is very important to be positive and optimistic because this is the only way to win. We have extraordinary players, as does Spain. I won’t name them because they do not need propaganda from me.”

Masoud Shojaei, the captain of Iran’s national football team, sat alongside Queiroz at the Kazan press conference. “I am excited to be at the World Cup,” he told reporters. “This is what every footballer wishes for, but not all get their wish. No matter how experienced you are, the situation at the World Cup is different. It will not be easy but we are ready to show what we can do.”

Journalists asked Shojaei about Rouzbeh Cheshmi, the Iranian defender who was injured on Sunday, June 17 during practice and who will not be able to play for the remainder of the competition. “Rouzbeh is an important and a key player,” said Shojaei, “[but] we have good players who can replace him. We belong to the same team, the same family and the same nation and this injury helped us to become more united. We have shown that we come together under difficult conditions...This is another reason to play stronger and with everything that we have got to show him that we are thinking of him.”

Masoud Shojaei was also asked about the ban on Iranian women attending football stadiums. “As I mentioned before,” he said, “we are one family and talking about such a subject would be disrespectful to the other team. We will talk about this later within the family.” Given that Shojaei has faced controversy before — in 2017 football authorities threatened to exclude him from the national team after he played against an Israeli team — he clearly wanted to avoid talking about one of the most politically-charged issues impacting on Iranian sports.  

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Mehdi Mahdavikia in Kazan

June 20, 2018
Guest Blogger
1 min read
Mehdi Mahdavikia in Kazan