Iran, had everything going for them, the players’ form, their clean sheet record in Pool B and the momentum; but they floundered at the very end to give Poland the pride of causing another major upset at the World Cup and bow out of competition with their heads held high.
Prior to this encounter, they rested atop Pool B with 20 points from 4 encounters and a win against Poland, as was expected by everyone, would only have ensured that they topped the group. Had this happened, one would have potentially witnessed the much awaited India-Iran clash in the semi-finals itself on Friday.
But this loss comes at a time when Thailand are raring to go. In their last match against Japan, if they manage to sneak a win, they will pip Iran to the first position in the group table. Although the points will remain the same, they will surge ahead on the basis of the score difference.
This will thus mean that Iran could end up locking horns against the Republic of Korea in the semi-finals to progress ahead into the all-important finals.
In their match against Poland, the complacent Iranian side which is a strategically strong defensive side lost the plot completely claiming a total of just 7 tackle points. For Poland, they registered a memorable win with Piotr Pamulak scoring nine points and Jan Baranowicz contributing with eight points as they inflicted a dent on the confident Iranian spirit.
Iran have a lot to learn from this match, it is a good wake-up call as we near the business end of the tournament. The defense will have to return to its original form, their in-form player Fazel Atrachali’s shoulder injury will have to be on the path of recovery, and the team will have to pick themselves up from this loss and bounce back with renewed energy and vigour in time for the semi-finals.
As for Pool A, South Korea will progress ahead in first place with a maximum tally of 25 points from their 5 encounters. The hosts India, are firm favourites to finish second and most likely to face the young Thailand recruits for a spot in the finals.Published 17 Oct 2016, 23:19 IST