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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

Iran ‘will take lessons’ from Uzbekistan draw, head coach Qalenoei says

Iran head coach Amir Qalenoei said his players will learn from their mistakes after playing to a 2-2 draw against Uzbekistan in a World Cup qualifier in Tashkent.
It was a game of two halves at the Milliy Stadium as the visiting side went into the break with a two-goal cushion, in what was arguably Iran’s best 45 minutes under Qalenoei since he took charge in March, but the host delivered a much-improved performance after the break to salvage a point.
Sardar Azmoun, wearing Iran’s armband, found Ramin Rezaeian in the corner of the box with a delicate touch before Sepahan fullback’s effort went in off the keeper’s leg with 14 minutes into the game.
Porto striker Mahdi Taremi doubled Iran’s lead with a composed finish in the 38th minute after being played through by Brentford midfielder Saman Qoddous, who was forced out injured right before the interval.
Oston O’runov pulled one back for Uzbekistan seven minutes after the break and then turned provider in the 83rd minute when his cross set up an unmarked Igor Sergeevto to volley home on the far post.
“My players thought the game is over at halftime,” Qalenoei said in the post-match press conference, adding: “Uzbekistan players played with their hearts in the second half while we just walked on the pitch.”
“It was a big lesson for us before the Asian Cup and we will have to learn from it. Big names do not guarantee the victory and you have to be passionate to win a football game,” added the Iranian after his team’s 10-game winning streak came to end.
The game was Iran’s last outing ahead of January’s AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, but the second-half display on Tuesday was surely a reality check for Qalenoei, who will be looking to lead the three-time champion to a first trophy since 1976 in the continent’s flagship international event.
“We were in full control in the first half but conceded a bad goal early after the break. The whole stadium was pushing them forward and their support played a massive part [in Uzbekistan getting back into the game]. We lost our rhythm in the second half and Uzbekistan made the most of it,” said Rezaeian, who was involved in on-pitch rows with the host’s players in the closing stages of the contest.
“That is normal in football. Iranian players play with passion and commitment and I just reacted to their provoking behavior.”
Iran will next take on Palestine on January 14 in the Asian Cup Group C – also featuring the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong, China.

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