Iran coach Abbas Chamanyan claimed to have created great memories in India as he talked to the press ahead of his side’s FIFA U-17 World Cup quarter-final clash with Spain.
Iran U-17 created history in India last year when we reached the finals of AFC U-16 Championship for only the second time, in Goa. Additionally, their being in the quarter-finals of an U-17 World Cup is a first, with the West Asian country essentially exceeding expectations thus far.
Asked about his experience in India, he said: “I have very good emotions about India. We have a lot of similarities between India and Iran: the people are kind and the culture is the same. We have had good experiences in this country every time we’ve been here. This is a bright spot for me and the players. We have created good memories here in India.”
Asked how they’d approach the Spain game, the 54-year-old coach stated, “The game against Spain is very important for us. We know that it’s going to be a tough match, but the same applies to our opponents as well. We’ve prepared well for this game. Our players are keen on becoming one of the four best teams by qualifying for the semi-finals. We’ve been analyzing Spain; we respect them fully, and we hope to produce a good performance against them.
“We always learn from our games. We’ve beaten Germany and we’ve also beaten teams who aren’t as tough as Germany. I’m sure the lessons we’ve learnt in the last four games will help us in our game against Spain tomorrow.”
Against a potent Spain side, one would expect Iran to adopt a defensive set-up, but the coach claimed that they’d play an attacking brand of football and try to avoid giving Spain any goal-scoring chance.
His Spanish counterpart Santiago Denia, however, sounded more modest when he told that his side wouldn’t mind adopting a defensive approach if their attack isn’t good enough on the night. Asked about the prospect of facing surprise packages Iran, he said, “It’s a top-level WC match. It’s not going to be easy. Iran are here because of their quality – they’ve won all their games. They’re one of the best teams in terms of transitioning from defence to attack. The players are pacy, and if they get their chances, they can be dangerous. They’ve done a good job, and that’s why they’re here.”
In light of Spain beating France in their round-of-16 game, many observers have branded them favourites, but the coach isn’t ready to buy that rhetoric, as he sounded more focused on the game he now has in hand.
“It’s not an obvious thing. It’s a challenge. Spain hasn’t won this tournament. The team has worked very hard, step-by-step to reach the semi-finals. We respect Iran, like we do every other team. They work very hard. Their hard work justifies their position here. We need to do a great job to defeat Iran, for it’s going to be a very difficult game,” concluded the Atletico Madrid legend.
The winner of the game in Kochi will go on to face Mali on October 25 in Navi Mumbai.