Despite the relatively disappointing performance and results in the recent matches played by Team Melli under Carlos Queiroz and specially that historic loss to Lebanon in Beirut , the fans in Iran have shown a great desire to support their team in Azadi stadium next Tuesday against Korea Republic.
The match, which is a crucial one for Team Melli , sitting in second place with 4 points, just behind the leaders Korea Republic, is anticipated to fill the 100,000 stadium to its capacity. Azadi , is one of the world most famous and daunting of venues. The match will be held in an intimidating atmosphere for the Koreans who have never managed to win in Iran. The battle cries have already been sounded in Iran with Team Melli getting an unusually full hearted support from every corner, even from those who were highly critical of Carlos Queiroz players. Apart from the usual fans , some of whom travel for hundreds of miles to watch a match in Azadi , many of the Iran Olympic heroes , ex-footballers, club coaches , club owners and dignitaries have announced their full support while the majority of them promised to be present in Azadi stadium.
One such supporter is Greco-Roman Wrestler Hamid Sourian , the 2012 Olympics Champion and Gold medal winner, who has urged his countrymen to stand behind their football team in order to defeat the Koreans. Sourian , an avid football fan and the most decorated wrestler of modern time with five-time world championship titles in his bag in Greco-Roman wrestling, stated that the support for Team Melli on Tuesday 16th October , is a national duty. “Everyone should forget whatever setbacks that have occurred to Team Melli and instead the fans should wholeheartedly support the team.” Sourian said in an interview. He hoped that Team Melli players give their best and bring honors to the football loving nation.
There seems to be a common belief by the football critics and in particular the hyper critical Iranian sport media , that the time is not right for inquests against Carlos Queiroz now. With two crucial matches, the upcoming Korea Republic match, and the next one against Uzbekistan in Azadi, the focus should be on the support and preparing a good atmosphere for the players to achieve the maximum points in those two matches, was declared editorials in various Iranian sport press .
Hossein Faraki , ex-Team Melli player who was the team member in the first ever World Cup in 1978 in Argentina, said that the only way to achieve victory against Korea and Uzbekistan is for everyone to be united and work together.
Kaebi “Korean have always been a difficult opponent for us.“
Another ex-Team Melli player , Hossein Kaebi , who has played against Korea Republic 5 times , echoed the sentiment of the rest and demanded the full support of the media and the fans on Tuesday. However, Kaebi was under no illusion and said “that Korean have always been a difficult opponent for us. Their football has progressed tremendously and their qualifications to the consecutive World Cup tournaments are evidence of this country’s strength in depth.” Kaebi who currently plays for Rah Ahn and has been selected for Team Melli under Queiroz , said that “we cannot just win based on wishful thinking and talk , the team needs to be at its best to match the Koreans.” He also pointed out the necessity to neutralize their best player with tight marking.
Mohammad Mayeli-Kohan , the controversial former Team Melli coach , emphasized the importance of fan support in Azadi and believed that the fans should not be despondent with any initial setbacks but need to support the team until the final whistle is blown. Mayeli-Kohan has been highly critical of many aspects of football in Iran and has questioned the Iranian football federation’s recruitment of foreign coaches for Team Melli. However , his presence at Team Melli practice sessions was a token of support as he urged the rest of the fans to follow suit and back the team. He cautioned against fan’s discontent if the team did not score in the initial period of the match.