Tehran: Jubilant Iran coach Ali Doustimehr has said that his side’s emphatic 5-1 hammering of Australia that qualified the 2012 AFC U-16 Championship hosts to next year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup was the end product of the involvement of many people from grassroots level to the very top of the country’s football administration.
Doustimehr’s young charges played the starring role in a surprisingly one-sided quarter-final clash at the PAS Stadium as Australia looked second-best in every department to the imperious Iranians.
Iran took the lead through Saeid Ezatolahi’s 30th minute penalty before Reza Karmollachaab gave the hosts a two-goal cushion four minutes later.
Mohammadreza Bazaj extended Iran’s advantage after being set up by Ali Rigi in the 63rd minute and then Rigi went from provider to scorer with a superb individual effort with ten minutes remaining.
Australia Substitute Bai Antniou scored an 88th minute consolation that appeared to give the scoreline a more flattering perspective only for Karmollachaab to score his second and Iran’s fifth in stoppage-time.
“I would like to thank the players, the coaching staff, the Federation, the media and the youth level coaches at clubs throughout the country as this victory of Iranian football,” declared Doustimehr.
“Without the help of everyone we could not do our job. Everything was wonderful today and we are happy to give the gift of World Cup qualification to the Iranian people.
“I know hope that the Iranian fans continue to follow our team and help us go on to become the top side in Asia.”
Iran’s victory sets up a semi-final showdown with Uzbekistan, who ended the 100% record of Korea Republic with a 5-3 penalty shootout victory after regulation time ended 1-1.
And Doustimehr was in the stands at the Rah Ahan Stadium to watch the Uzbek’s surprise victory as he plots how to win the AFC U-16 Championship for the second time after masterminding Iran’s first title at this level in 2008.
“Before this game I watched the quarter-final between Uzbekistan and Korea and I know that the Uzbeks are a very good team and that it will be a tough semi-final,” he continued.
“But we will prepare well and we will do what it takes to win this championship in our own country. Today we played very well but we must not get too proud of ourselves and we must prepare well for the game against Uzbekistan.
“We have spoken many times with the players about this game and we said that there might be the possibility of some reward or some money from the Federation if we win. But like all Iranians the players are passionate about their country and they said they are not playing for money but for Iran.”
Vanquished Australian coach Alistair Edwards tempered his disappointment with the fact that on the day the Iranians were simply too strong.
“Congratulations to Iran for qualifying to the World Cup and on their much deserved victory,” said the former Australia international.
“Of course we had hoped we would qualify and we didn’t expect such a result but Iran played a high-pressure game and didn’t allow us to get into our rhythm. We made too many mistakes at times but again this was mainly down to Iran’s pressure.”
Edwards was asked at the post-match press conference if he regretted not fielding a stronger side in the last group stage match against Iraq which, had they won, would have given them a relatively easier quarter-final.
“All games in the tournament have been difficult and on another day we could have won the penalty shootout against Iraq.
“But it would have been tough playing Kuwait as well. At the end of the day Iran played much better than us and deserved their victory.
“I am happy for Iran but also proud of my players. Apart from the match today I think we had a good tournament.”