Okay, I haven’t written much in a while but after Iran’s two 1-0 victories over Qatar and China, Team Melli – the National Team of Iran – are now one win away from booking a ticket to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. For many Team Melli fans these are exciting times but the job is not done yet.
The win against Qatar on 23 March reminded me of past games that Iran has played in Doha against the Qataris. Iran were not the dominant side but they definitely were the better team and Mehdi Taremi continues to show why he is such a valuable player. The bottom line is that Iran found a way to win and any win away from home is a good win because we all know that there is no such thing as an easy road fixture in the final round of qualifying.
Five days later I felt that Iran should have easily defeated China with the support of an intimidating crowd at Azadi Stadium but in all honesty I realized the match would be tough from the way things went in the first half. Obviously a two or three goal victory would have been ideal but the Chinese are coached by Italian Marcello Lippi and we all know that Italian coaches know their defense.
Iran were much better than China but lets face it, anything less than a win against China would have had numerous Team Melli fans angry and maybe even calling for Carlos Queiroz’s job but I obviously would not have been one of those fans. Bottom line, Mehdi Taremi came through again by being in the right place at the right time and Iran found a way to win.
Here we are now just a little over two months away from the showdown with Uzbekistan on 12 June at Azadi Stadium in Tehran. Iranian football fans in attendance will hardly be able to contain their euphoria and excitement.
I am hoping that Iran plays hard and defeats the Uzbeks without any drama but the interesting thing to realize right now is that the road team has won 1-0 in the last three world cup qualifying matches between the two teams.
In the past it seems like we have become used to Team Melli doing things the Iranian way by adding drama that us football fans do not want.
Iran have three games remaining in the final round of qualification and they have a chance to book an automatic qualifying spot with a win against Uzbekistan. We all know it will be a tough game but we also know that Iran are the better team. Can the Iranians book a spot to the world cup on June 12th?
It would only be fitting to book a ticket to Russia by beating a former Soviet Republic.