FIFA U17 World Cup: Mexico loving Goan weather while humble Iran finally dare to dream ahead of R16 clash
Iran take on Mexico in the first of two Round of 16 fixtures at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa today.
''We are here to win the match against Iran said Mexico head coach Mario Arteaga in a strong statement of intent. He continued, ''Yes, we are facing a very strong opponent who unlike us, have won all 3 of their matches including a 4-0 win against Germany but that time has gone now and we are in a new stage, we are starting from scratch so when the ball starts rolling and the whistle blows, past results wont matter anymore. Also, we are experienced when it comes to knockout rounds as we have experience.''
Coach Arteaga's Mexican team ended up with only 2 points from 3 games, not winning a single game, the only team having qualified for the Round of 16 to do so. Arteaga had a bit to say on the Group they were drawn in: "We were in a very strong group, with very strong opponents. The match against Iraq they played with 6 defenders and that made our life very difficult. The plan against England was to not concede a goal but during the first half they surprised us and we found ourselves 3 nil down, we managed to score twice but unfortunately couldn’t go the distance and win. Finally, against Chile, we played really well, but knowing that a draw would be sufficient we decided to take no risks."
When asked about the weather Arteaga added: "We played our qualifiers in Panama, a place that has a similar climate to Goa, but that being said we also have a few places in Mexico where the weather is also like that in Goa. We are enjoying the weather, we have no problems here.''
Iran's head coach Abbas Chamanian was still as humble as ever and grateful to have qualified for the final 16, saying: "All of the teams in this stage have the same chance, we are glad to be here and hope for the future. Tomorrow is a very important step. We got 3 points from 3 matches but now we have a new challenge, there is not much difference (between Iran and Mexico) because we are at the same stage after the group stage. All the teams have a hope of going forward to the next round."
When asked again for the umpteenth time if his team are contenders for the U17 World Cup, coach Chamanian finally admitted, "Why not? We have an excellent, all-round team and we are producing results. In any match, we will play the same way as we played against Germany."
Iran's star player of the tournament Younes Delfi, who has scored 2 and assisted 2, along with winning 2 penalties in the game vs Costa Rica was positive ahead of the Round of 16 game, he also stressed on how teamwork is one of the most important strengths of this Iran team going back to the penalty incidents vs Costa Rica.
"If I had taken both penalties where I was fouled and scored it would help me to go top of the table goal scorers but we are a team. Whether Taha or Ghobeshavi scores it makes no difference to me as we are a team, and in the end, the most important thing is for our Nation progress."
"Mohammed Ghobeishavi is a very important player, although he protested about his decision (yellow card) we anyway respect the referee's decisions and he will, unfortunately, be out of the important game (one-match ban). Thankfully our entire team has abilities and are very strong, they always play together and give it their all. For me, I’m always annoyed and upset for any players that are absent from the list," said an upset Chamanian on what he felt was a wrong decision to book his captain for a handball in the last game.
However, the Iran boss was full of praise for Goa and the pitch at the Fatorda Stadium, saying: "In my opinion the grass in the stadium, is good and the stadium is beautiful. Everything is good over here, the only problem is the distance between some of the training grounds and the hotel but it's not something that has caused great difficulty."
Stay tuned to Sportskeeda today at 5 pm to follow the action as Iran take on Mexico in the Round of 16.