By Morteza Mohases

Rethinking our thinking: story of 2022 World Cup

February 8, 2022 - 14:54

TEHRAN - I was conducting an AFC Coaching Course in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in June 2019, when Mongolian Capitan Tsedenbal Norjmoo scored from a direct free-kick against Brunei, which was the first Goal of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier for the low-ranking national teams. In the end, Mongolia defeated Brunei 2-0.

Since then, we have witnessed many twists and turns and unexpected results. We are now in the final rounds of the qualification stage, with all regular qualifying matches will be completed by the end of March and we know the 30 of the 32 teams, and the last two places will be decided in the Intercontinental showdown in June.

Under the tutelage of Dragan Skocic, Iran qualified with an impressive record of six clean sheets and with an average of 55% of ball possession, only once were held 1-1 to tactically astute South Korean side in Tehran. So far, the Iranians have displayed workmanship, discipline, adequate flow, and good balance at the time of transition. Skocic adopted a variation 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 formation, the front player, Mehdi Taremi, proved to be imposing and a world-class finisher.

Skocic kept faith in a back - four consisting of two central defenders and two offensive outside backs. They provide width in attack and create numerical superiority on the flanks.

Research on success factors in World Cup competitions and the study by the Institute of Sports and Sports Science in Karlsruhe, Germany, show that the success factors in the two previous FIFA World Cups in Russia and Brazil suggested that defensive errors, 1v1 confrontations, tackle success, shots from the counterattacks, effective crossing delivery, and set-plays have a significant influence on winning matches, but ball possession and distance covered and market value of the players of the teams did not affect the result.

Overall, most of the critical success were related to solid, compact defensive organization and defensive structure.

Finally, the direct style of football and pressing was more effective than Ball Possession play.

We need to consider rethinking our thinking.

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