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Number Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Forty Two - 23 November 2023
Iran Daily - Number Seven Thousand Four Hundred and Forty Two - 23 November 2023 - Page 6

FIFA U-17 World Cup:

Shootout heartbreak sends Iran packing

Iran’s impressive run at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Indonesia came to a painful end after a 4-1 shootout defeat against Morocco in the round of 16.
Iran’s Hesam Nafari sent his effort from the spot wide and Kasra Taheri was denied by goalkeeper Taha Benrhozil, while the Moroccans converted all four spot-kicks to head into the last-eight clash against fellow African side Mali, which routed Mexico 5-0 earlier in the day.
The Iranian boys thought they had done enough to go through when Esmaeil Qolizadeh broke the deadlock with 17 minutes from normal time, only to see his header goal canceled out by Nassim Azaouzi’s superb volley in the fourth minute of the stoppage time.
“It was a game of tears and smiles at the end,” Iran head coach Hossein Abdi said after the game, adding: “My players were clearly exhausted as we had to take an hours-long trip [to reach to Surabaya] and only had one training session before the game, while the Moroccans had been here for five days.”
“I believe we could have won the game if the team had not been tired. I still want to congratulate my players. I should also apologize to the Iranian people for not giving them what they deserved.
“We say goodbye to the under-17 World Cup but we will regroup for another tournament in the near future,” added the Iranian.
The setback against the under-17 Africa Cup of Nations runner-up, boasting players from top-notch European club academies, still takes nothing away from Iran’s brave campaign in Indonesia.
Hossein Abdi’s team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition by coming from two goals down at halftime to beat the defending champion Brazil 3-2 in their group opener.
Iran then went toe to toe with England before a 90th-minute winner from Manchester City academy player Joel Ndala gave the 2017 champions a 2-1 victory.
The 5-0 triumph over New Caledonia saw Abdi’s team finish the group stage equal on six points with the two under-17 heavyweights but settle for the third spot on a goal difference.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Germany defeated USA 3-2 thanks to a Bilal Yalcinkaya’s last-gasp winner and will face Spain – 2-1 winner against Japan on the preceding night – on Friday for a place in the semifinals.
Argentina thrashed Venezuela 5-0 to set an all-South American quarterfinal date against Brazil, which had beaten Ecuador 3-1 on Monday.

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