What's buzzing:

Pride at stake for Iran at World Cup

AP - Sports
Pride at stake for Iran at World Cup
.

View photo

FILE - In this June 8, 2014 file photo, Iran goalkeepers coach Dan Gaspar works with goalies after an international soccer friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 58-year-old Gaspar is from Connecticut. His players, however, speak mostly Farsi. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Iran will earn the respect of soccer fans around the world with its performance against Nigeria in their World Cup opener on Monday, according to the team's goalkeeping coach.

Iran is among the lowest ranked teams in the tournament and heads into the Group F match at Curitiba with only one previous victory at a World Cup, against the United States in 1998. It also faces Lionel Messi's Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina in group play.

But keeper coach Dan Gaspar said Saturday the squad was fully focused on Nigeria and that his lesser-known players, who he said would be a ''mystery team'' for their opponents, would be playing with pride on the game's biggest stage.

''We are probably the team that is the least recognized, the least known of all the other 31 teams,'' he said, after the team's final training session at the sports complex of Sao Paulo club Corinthians.

''But the one thing that I can guarantee is that after 90 minutes we will earn the respect of the Nigerians, we will earn the respect of the football fans and the world will begin to recognize the level of play that we have on our team.''

Gaspar, who works under Portuguese head coach Carlos Queiroz, was accompanied by two Farsi-speaking defenders - Amirhossein Sadeghi and Pejman Montazeri.

''We will definitely try to make our country proud,'' Montazeri said through a translator. ''Our first and main objective is against Nigeria and we have to focus on that.''

For Gaspar, that determination is shared by all of Montazeri's teammates.

''The players are confident yet humble,'' Gaspar said. ''This team is prepared to sacrifice, to suffer, to fight with humility and represent Iran the best possible way.''

----

Follow Heller on Twitter (at)aronhellerap

View Comments (3)
  • Icardi strikes late to hand Inter win over Roma

    Icardi strikes late to hand Inter win over Roma

    By Jacopo Lo Monaco ROME (Reuters) - Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi scored with two minutes remaining to hand them a 2-1 win over AS Roma in Serie A on Saturday, while AC Milan's slim hopes of playing in Europe next season were dented in a 2-1 defeat … More »

    Reuters - 1 minute 52 seconds ago
  • Injuries and arrests after violent Belgrade derby

    Injuries and arrests after violent Belgrade derby

    By Zoran Milosavljevic BELGRADE (Reuters) - Thirty-five police officers were hurt and 41 fans arrested in a violent Belgrade derby between Red Star and Partizan on Saturday. "Hooligan behaviour has led to slight injuries to 35 police officers," … More »

    Reuters - 15 minutes ago
  • Champions PSV stay on course for records

    New Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven remained on course for a record-breaking season after Juergen Locadia scored a last-minute winner to secure a 3-2 triumph at Excelsior Rotterdam on Saturday. PSV, who secured the championship last weekend, have now … More »

    Reuters - 16 minutes ago
  • Barca stays in control in Spain; City grabs late winner

    Barca stays in control in Spain; City grabs late winner

    Lionel Messi helped Barcelona stay in control of the title race in Spain, while Manchester City left it late for a victory that inched the English champions toward Champions League qualification. Here is a look at the action in Europe's top … More »

    AP - Sports - 16 minutes ago
  • Man City's spirit and belief is back, says Pellegrini

    Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini hailed his team's spirit and belief after Saturday's 3-2 win over Aston Villa and said those qualities had been lacking in recent Premier League games. The champions let slip a two-goal lead, given them by … More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 34 minutes ago