AL RAYYAN, Doha : Iran's coach and players put their stunning World Cup turnaround on Friday down to winning their own mental battles, amid growing public pressure on them to make a stand over a deadly crackdown on protests against their country's clerical rulers.Iran were headed for a goalless draw against Wales in Al Rayyan on Friday but scored twice deep in stoppage time to seal a last-gasp victory and keep alive their hopes of reaching the World Cup second round for the first time ever.The preparations of Team Melli, a huge source of national pride, have been disrupted by a crisis back home following the death in police custody of a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman in September.
Her death sparked protests that have grown to represent the boldest challenge to the legitimacy of Iran's clerical elite since the 1979 Islamic Revolution."We talk about the players, their goals.
I don't have words to congratulate my players, they were brilliant," coach Carlos Queiroz told a news conference."We played with amazing, amazing character, which is the profile of our team usually.
We always play with a sense of unity, cohesion, always. Today we made it very clear football is a game of different moments."Iran were thrashed 6-2 in their opening Group B match against England on Monday, after which Queiroz vented fury over what he called harassment and political pressure on his team, who have faced criticism at home for not speaking out strongly over the deaths of protesters.Many Iranians had hoped the team would use their high profile and the World Cup as a platform to show their solidarity.Read more on channelnewsasia.com