FIFA U17 World Cup: Spain seal semis berth with win against Iran
The rain stayed away and the sun was out to give warm welcome for the last game at Kochi. A packed stadium welcomed both the teams. It looked like Kochi was eager to see the attacking game of Iran who demolished the mighty Germans in the group stage. A 28,436 crowd welcomed the teams with phone lights and Mexican waves.
Spain started the game on attack mode, and the furious face of Iran which destroyed Germany was not to be seen. After 90 minutes of largely one-sided action, Spain booked their place in the semifinals with an easy 3-1 win.
After the match, the Iran coach Abbas Chamanian thanked FIFA and the hosts for giving wonderful experience at the World Cup. "We are happy that we played five games in the tournament, it was a good opportunity for the players and the staffs and all the teams who participated in the tournament have learned a lot of new things".
Abbas said that the team did not start well which cost them the game. He reckoned: "We didn't start the game well and were sloppy for first 20 minutes but the boys gave their best in 90 minutes of the game." The substitutes were attacking once and they were put on the field to play an attacking game but the second goal changed the game and the young players lacked the experience to outplay the mighty Spaniards.
Abbas refused to comment on the Kochi pitch and said: "We do not select the strategy based on the pitch but based on the quality of the opponents, Spain had a good game and we failed to apply our strategy against Spain". On players missing out through suspension, Abbas said: "In football, we lose players to injury or suspension, but we should move on from that and we choose the team from the best players available to us".
His Spanish counterpart Santi Denia was satisfied with his players who did the perfect job by qualifying for the semi-finals and all the players played to their highest level. Denia said: "We didn't just work on possession but also concentrated on vertical movement through the wings, Iran didn't have much of the possession in Germany game but won."
Denia's strategy seemed to work here because against Germany, Iran concentrated on the middle and were fast to get the counterattacks through the middle scoring the goals, but Spain kept hold of possession and exploited the wings with fast attacks to get the goals. On the next game against Mali, Denia joked that he should be given time to enjoy the win, adding: "Mali is a good team and we need to start working tonight to face Mali".
Ferran Torres was delighted with the win after the game, saying: "At the start of the match they saw that the left back of Iran was weak and they made most of it by attacking from that side."
He added that they played four games in Kochi and the familiarity of the pitch gave them the upper hand in the game. He also said the game against Mali will be like a final, stressing that Mali reached till here because they've played well and Spain expect a tough game.
"The Spain team played as a team and won the European Championship, and they are in the semi's because they are doing the same and the clubs which they play for doesn't matter here," signed off an upbeat Torres.