It was barely one week ago that Iran got off to the perfect start in U-20 World Cup with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica but after a 4-2 loss to Zambia and 2-1 defeat to Portugal, our boys have been eliminated. Maybe there could have been some hope at being one of the four best third place teams but Costa Rica’s win over Zambia placed Iran at the bottom of the group.
In all honesty it is disappointing. Iran took an early lead against Portugal on another goal scored by Reza Shekari but after that I had the bad feeling that Iran would just sit on the lead and watch the minutes tick away.
Head coach Amir Hossein Peyrovani made some changes and one of them was at goalkeeper. Shahab Adeli started in place of Nima Mirzazad and that was a move I was fine with because I felt that Mirzazad could have played better against Zambia. Adeli made a huge save in the first minute but he made a huge blunder in the second half that led to the first goal from Portugal.
On that corner kick Adeli came off his line only to slap the ball away. That was a moment where he had to catch the ball or punch it to safety. I liked the way Adeli played for most of the game but his mistake was evident that Peyrovani’s team is inconsistent.
In football it’s easy to talk about the shouldas, wouldas, and couldas after the fact but watching this U-20 team reminded me of an Iran team that was coached by Ali Daei. In those days Iran would take the lead and park the bus but the big problem is that they were not good at holding the lead. I remember getting indigestion watching those games and this time I had the same bad feeling and I knew Portugal would win. I hate that I was right.
Our national team of Iran has shown excellent improvements on defense and team work since Carlos Queiroz took the reins of TM back in 2011 but the performance of our U-20 squad shows that our youth footballers need the tutelage of world class coaching.
Until changes are made at the youth levels of Iranian football, we will continue to see struggles instead of progress.