Coach Carlos Queiroz said Iran will soak up the experience of facing World Cup contenders Spain on Wednesday but warned the Lions of Persia will produce their “best game ever” as they strive to cause the shock of the tournament.
Days after celebrating only their second-ever World Cup win in five editions with a 1-0 victory over Morocco that sent them top of Group B, Iran are expected to return to earth with a bump against a Spain side oozing class.
“For us it’s a privilege and an honour to be here. It’s a unique opportunity for us to play against Spain, one of the candidates to win the World Cup,” Queiroz told a packed and, at times, chaotic media conference in Kazan on Tuesday.
“We’re in a win-win situation because it’s a unique opportunity for our national team to learn more about the game and to grow as players.”
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa scored twice while Real Madrid defender Nacho gave Spain a 3-2 lead before Cristiano Ronaldo snatched a 3-3 draw for Portugal with a late third in a spectacular game in Sochi last Friday.
Queiroz is under no illusions about the superiority of Fernando Hierro’s side as the Spaniards look to claim their first win of the tournament.
But he says Iran are in Russia carrying the hopes of an entire nation, not just to make up the numbers.
“If there was a magic potion to stop the Spanish team, then $1 million would not be too much to buy it, even though we do have some financial troubles,” said Queiroz, who was flanked by AEK Athens midfielder Masoud Shojaei.
Queiroz, a former assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, sounded a defiant message, saying Spain could boss the match technically but could not control how much Iran will fight.
“We are well aware of Spain’s reputation, so we’ll have to play our best game ever. In the end the football gods will decide,” he said.