Pride at stake for Iran at World Cup

The Associated Press
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

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Zidane warns Real to be wary of "game of the year" for opponents

      Zidane warns Real to be wary of "game of the year" for opponents

      Real Madrid's players need to be prepared for rival teams raising their game when they meet the La Liga leaders, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday. "We know we have to always improve but it's difficult because when teams play us it's always … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 0 minutes ago
    • Zidane warns Real to be wary of 'game of the year' for opponents

      Zidane warns Real to be wary of 'game of the year' for opponents

      Real Madrid's players need to be prepared for rival teams raising their game when they meet the La Liga leaders, coach Zinedine Zidane said on Saturday. "We know we have to always improve but it's difficult because when teams play us it's always … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 39 minutes ago
    • AS Roma strike deal with city officials on new stadium

      AS Roma have struck a deal with city officials over building a new stadium in the Italian capital, opening the way for a project meant to boost the Serie A soccer club's revenue. The 52,500-seat Stadio Della Roma, to be built in the city's … More »

      Reuters - 2 hours 34 minutes ago
    • Scholes wants Guardiola to coach England

      Scholes wants Guardiola to coach England

      Former England midfielder Paul Scholes would like Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola to take charge of the England team one day, he said in an interview published on Saturday. "I hope he becomes England coach one day and bring us his style," … More »

      Reuters - 2 hours 35 minutes ago
    • AS Roma strike deal with city officials on new stadium

      AS Roma strike deal with city officials on new stadium

      AS Roma have struck a deal with city officials over building a new stadium in the Italian capital, opening the way for a project meant to boost the Serie A soccer club's revenue. The 52,500-seat Stadio Della Roma, to be built in the city's … More »

      Reuters - 2 hours 49 minutes ago