Reign of Queiroz over
Iran crashed out of the Asian Cup in a dramatic game that saw Japan not only score a first goal on Iran in this Asian cup but score three before the match was over. A match that was billed a battle of giants turned on a moment of undisciplined behaviour by Iran’s players. A team that was praised for very well organized and disciplined play at the World Cup fell due to the lack of exactly that.
The first half of the match was a balanced affair with Iran’s Sardar Azmoun coming very close from a tight angel. What became apparent in the first half was the long balls that were being sent towards Sardar Azmoun. It was not clear why Iran resorted to these long balls because thye were most dangerous when they built up from the back.
The second half came to a quick start as Iran instantly went on the attack. The Iranian team felt confident they would get the upper hand and everything looked like they may very well see the first goal of the match. A Japanese counter turned the match on its head.
Eleven minutes into the second half Takumi Minamino ran up the field on a counter and Hossein Kanani was marking him when he went down. Kanani and a few other Iranian players protested to the referee that Kanani was acting and they forgot about Kanani. Kanani got up and recovered the ball and from there crossed in for Yuya Osako to finish. It was a moment of unprofessionalism. A lack of focus and discipline lead to the goal.
Iran had never been behind in this Asian cup and pushed ahead to score the equalizer. Just as Iran was beginning to get the upper hand Japan were awarded a controversial penalty kick by the Australian referee. Pouraliganji slide to block a cross and the ball went to hand. It was a call which most of the time would not be called for the lack of intent and for the ball going to hand. It added more Australian history to Iranian minds as Japan put away the second. It was all falling apart.
The Iranian team fought valiantly and pushed up to see if there was a miracle. It was not to be. Japan put in a third in the 92nd minute to break Iranian hearts.
Carlos Queiroz in his post match conference refereed to this loss as the most painful loss. He knows that Iran deserved to be in the final and in his social media post said so. He will be leaving Iran after eight years of building a very good team but lacking any silverware to show for it.
Iran will now have to wait another four years to take back the coveted Asian Cup that has alluded Iran for forty two years, since 1976. Where Iran’s team goes from here is the question on many fans minds. A new chapter will soon begin.