Iran coach Carlos Queiroz on World Cup, USMNT, England

Carlos Queiroz had a good idea of ​​what he was signing up for in September when he agreed to return to his former role as coach of the Iran national team, three years after quitting his first season for eight years to run, on a $50,000 contract for three months of work ending at the World Cup. Or at least he thought he did.

It was included in a political group in Qatar along with the United States, England and Wales – Iran’s relations with the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom are little more than a threat from the Islamic Revolution in the year 1979 – Queiroz became a football coach and candidate to ensure Iran’s World Cup campaign went well.

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But within days of her return to Iran, protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested for not wearing her headscarf properly, began increasing and covering the earth.

Almost two months later, the situation continues. Women continue to defy the government by cutting their hair and not wearing headscarves, and Iranian football players, past and present, join protests on social media and posts supporting demands for greater rights for women and society.

Outside Iran, there have been calls for Team Melli — Iran’s name for their national team — to be kicked out of the World Cup by Ukraine because the country is supplying military equipment. to Russia to support its invasion of Ukraine.

Queiroz is the leader of Iranian football, but the former Real Madrid coach and long-time assistant of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United chose to avoid the program that is currently consuming Iran. When asked during a training camp in Tehran last week about the protests and unrest in the country – and the perception that many Iranians do not want their team to represent the government Islam – Queiroz said to prevent his release. think about the situation.

When ESPN spoke to Queiroz at the end of September during a training session in Vienna, Austria, ahead of friendlies against Uruguay and Senegal, he said, “Most Iranians have a response understand this project. at the 2022 World Cup.”

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Amini’s protests had already begun, and because of concerns in the Iranian camp, ESPN and other Western media outlets were banned from attending the Uruguay game in St. Louis. Polten before the U-turn on game day. Iran’s concerns about protests at the game were justified, with supporters being kicked out by Austrian police for displaying flags bearing Amini’s name.

Queiroz was asked about his views on the situation in Iran, but responded by saying, “I don’t have any thoughts.”

His position is clear. He talks about football, and Iran’s hopes in Qatar, but everything else is outside. The 69-year-old defied the Iranian Football Federation hierarchy by agreeing to speak to ESPN, but even then only with football questions.

Iran’s situation is up rather than down in mid-September, but with the World Cup kicking off in just over a week, Iran are set to face England in their opening match. at the Khalifa Stadium on November 21 before their meeting in the tournament. United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in the final Group B match on November 29, Queiroz’s thoughts on the team are below.

ESPN: Iran has been eliminated as a non-finalist in the group, although it is 20th in the FIFA world rankings, just below Wales (19) and the US (16), so it is important more motivation for you?

Queiroz: Not at all. I never think like that because I don’t care what other people think about us. We think about ourselves. We have our strengths and our qualities and we have some weaknesses like all teams. No one is perfect, at the right time, it’s time to talk in the park.

Those feelings, or those words, don’t count. But at the end of the day, in a match, the most important thing is to do your best, play good football and leave the result in God’s hands. That’s what we can do.

ESPN: Iran have not made it out of the group stage at the World Cup, so what are the expectations in Qatar?

Queiroz: For me, it’s not bad to think that we feel that pressure to increase our responsibilities, our motivations and our actions. But in a group, we have the same expectations to do well as others.

We want to move forward, get better and know that we have our hopes to reach the second stage of the World Cup. Nothing has changed. We go for the third World Cup with one belief and one ambition there.

ESPN: The opening match against England, one of the World Cup matches. How strong are they?

Queiroz: I am happy to play in England, as we are happy with Iranian football to play Portugal or Spain. We are happy to play the best teams in the world because this is our life. We strive to be among the best teams in the world, among the best players.

So to be there for us, it’s a happy time. We will do our best to reach the World Cup. And when we get to the World Cup, we’ll go there as underdogs, but we’re among the top 32 national teams in the world right now, so let’s be happy.

ESPN: You worked in England with Manchester United, you know the country and the team’s desire to do well, but you have seen them fail many times before.

Queiroz: England is the dominant team. There is no doubt that in recent years, in world football, England have been growing with better preparation and more vision. It’s clear and results on the pitch.

But I wouldn’t say this team is better, or the players are better, since the days of David Beckham and Paul Scholes. They weren’t then, but the difference now is that England show a clear direction and vision of where every player and the whole team needs to go. This creates a stronger and more competitive team.

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But this World Cup is different because we face a new structure — a short period between games, a tournament played in November, very different from compare to other World Cups, so we have players in it. Europe will arrive in Qatar with 15-20 matches in their legs.

In other World Cups, they have 65-70 games in their legs, so we’ll see what happens.

ESPN: The match against the US is the last game of the group and could determine the hopes of both teams. You coached in MLS with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in the 1990s. How do you see the US team and the nation’s progress in soccer?

Queiroz: I see progress, football progress everywhere. Most people don’t see them, but the experts, we know. The game is moving forward in America — it’s faster, the players think faster, they make faster decisions, so we have to understand that.

This also happens in all countries, including the US. But every year, it varies, compared to other countries. Now there are links with players from big countries and tournaments. American football players are growing fast compared to other countries and other countries in the world.

ESPN: Can Iran surprise people at this World Cup?

Queiroz: What we expect from the World Cup is great games, great matches, great performances. Iran, England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, USA — we have only one goal to create happiness, joy and pride for our supporters.


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