By Farrokh Hesabi

Win against Syria good, not the best

September 6, 2021 - 4:44

TEHRAN - The Iran national football team's win against Syria in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers was a good result but not the best performance.

The ‘Persian Leopards’ defeated Syria 1-0 at Azadi Stadium on Thursday. However, the way the team played failed to impress the Iranian experts, football media, and the fans.

Dragan Skocic’s men were far from their best, but they got the job done to earn the three points. The Croatian coach was unable to attend the match after returning from a positive COVID-19 test. Still, he could manage the eighth win in a row for the national team since his appointment as the head coach of Iran.

The national team's performance was met with criticism by some media as they believe Iran should have played much better on its own soil. They believe that Iran’s game lacked the necessary pace and freshness, and the team was also unable to dominate the game because they lacked a clear tactical plan against Syria.

The win, however, was so valuable for Iran by considering results elsewhere in Group A of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar, with the Korea Republic, held to a goalless draw by Iraq before UAE and Lebanon also shared the spoils in a goalless draw.

Iran started the games without any preparatory matches or foreign training camps. The players who play abroad - commonly known in Iran as ‘legionnaires’- joined the training camp in Tehran just three days before the match, and the national team star striker, Sardar Azmoun, was suspended.

So, some experts believe that with the condition that Iran had before the match, it is a valuable result that should not be underestimated. 

The team's technical staff tried to rebound from a lackluster performance in the first half and made some changes in the squad that was effective and awakened a sense of urgency in the team.

Iran will likely have a trickier assignment in the next match when they meet Dick Advocat’s Iraq.

To be fair, Iran actually struggled to find the back of the net against Syria’s very deep defensive line. However, Skocic’s side can look ahead with confidence as Group A leaders. In terms of the result, they made the first step strongly at home but must keep going with better performance for the next games.

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