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Down Memory Lane: Iran in 1978 World Cup


July & August 1978


Holland 3, Iran 0

     (Group Four)

 HOLLAND began their bid for a place in  another World Cup final with an efficient if  not majestic performance against Iran in  Mendoza.

A hat-trick by Rob Rensenbrink, two of  them from the penalty spot, confirmed the  considerable gulf in class between themselves  and the Asian qualifiers.
Iran played neat, controlled football in  midfield and their defence was uncompromising in the tackle.   But they lacked pace and numbers up front  and all too quickly they found their attacks ‘stifled and the action back in their own half.
Without the agility and safe handling of  goalkeeper Hejazi they might have been  more comprehensively beaten.

Iran brought Roshan, still not fully  recovered from a knee ligament injury, into  their attack in the second half but he found  support rare and insufficient.  Holland, sluggish at the start, had two  narrow escapes in the first 16 minutes.
Sadeghi’s long range shot was deflected and  Jongbloed had to scamper across his line to  save at the foot of a post.
Then, with the Dutch appealing in vain for  offside Faraki raced clear on the right and this  time a slight deflection carried his cross-shot  behind for a corner.
Holland shrugged off those scrapes, began  to piece together their game and Iran found  themselves under siege.  But for all the pressure it was a break from  defence which set up the opening goal in the  40th minute. Reinier Van de Kerkhof ran  away on the right and Abdollahi brought him  down in the area.
Rensenbrink, untroubled by the whistles of   the crowd, calmly placed the ball inside the  left post.

Rensenbrink effectively clinched the match after 62 minutes when he climbed high at the far post to head the second.
He completed his hat-trick in the 79th minute with another penalty after a trip ended Rep’s meandering run.

        Scotland 1, Iran 1

              (Group Four)

A RESOURCEFUL and confidence Iran team rubbed salt into Scotland’s gaping World Cup wounds
After defeat by Peru , the Willie Johnston disgraced and stories of players living it up, the Scots desperately needed a morale-boosting victory. Instead they played miserably unable to bring rhythm or purpose to their game. Their midfield was always industrious, but rarely effective, while the attack was pitifully unproductive.

Iran started cautiously, clearly hoping to contain. They feared Scotland’s pace and strength and were quick to pull back reinforcements to the defense.

But despite giving away an own goal Iran came back powerfully, their self beleif swelled and they might even have a win. The crucial move by manager Heshmat Mohajerani was to bring Danaiefar into his midfield to counter the non-stop menace by Gemmill.

The tenacious little Iranian did precisely that and much more besides. He found time to create, push forward and then score the equaliser.
He had marvelous support from Mohammad Sadeghi who covered and chased as well as displaying the ball control and flair.

Yet it seemed Iran were destined for another disappointment when they went down to a crazy goal just before half-time.
Hartford played an innocuous-looking ball down the middle and Jordan chased more in hope than belief.  But Hejazi, aware of Jordan’s challenge and Eskandarian confused each other and the latter turned the ball into his own net.

On the hour, however, Iran equalized. Danaiefard went wide on the left and then when it seemed the angle would defy him, he whipped his shot between Rough and the post. Suddenly Iran sensed victory was there for the taking and two minutes later they should have gone ahead. Ghasemmpour raced away on his own but lost control and  Rough smothered.

Jordan had a header superbly saved by Hejazi at the foot of the post as Scotland produced a last rally. But a goal then would have been more than they deserved        and an injustice to Iran.

Peru 4 Iran 1

     (Group Four)

PERU clinched top place in Group Four with another spectacular but controversial victory against Iran.

The pace and penetration which destroyed Scotland in their opening match also proved too much for the Asia Oceania representatives.
But Iranian hopes virtually disappeared when they had their third and fourth penalties of the championship awarded against them.
Cubillas, that master executioner, duly converted both to add to Velasquez’s opening goal and Peru had a handsome 3-0 lead after 39 minutes.

Iran manager Heshmat Mohajerani demanded: “We have had four penalties given against us, is this justice? We didn’t come here claiming we would beat these teams but we have not been given a chance.”
“My players are sick because they didn’t think they deserved to lose so heavily. We lost the game but mainly we lost it to the referee. FIFA should have protected us.”
Certainly it appeared that the second penalty in the Holland match was awarded for a foul fractionally outside the area and that Polish referee Alojzy Jarguz was harsh with his first penalty decision of the Peru game.

The Iranians also have some justification in claiming they should have had a penalty themselves against Peru.
But despite their frustrations Iran pulled  back a goal just before half-time, Roshan’s low, first-time shot going in off the far post.

The alert little forward was unlucky not to have another after 58 minutes when Quiroga defied him with a superb double save.
Iran at that stage looked as if they had  finally found a cutting edge to their neat, controlled play and that they might provide us  with a tense finish.
Peru, however, produced another ounce of  effort and in the 78th minute Cubillas completed his hat-trick.

[su_label]POST MORTEM[/su_label]

THOUGH more had been expected of Iran than Tunisia, in fact the Iranians were the less appreciated of the two minnows.

The reason was plain: where as the Tunisians played an all-round game, the Iranians were concerned mainly to defend and stop their opponents at all costs- even if it should mean a pile of penalties.

Perhaps this approach was forced on manager Heshmat Mohajerani by the fact that Hasan Rowshan was not fully fit; perhaps it was forced by the withdrawal from the squad before the finals of Parviz Gheleechkhani- though his form in the NASL with San Jose Earthquakes had been nothing to write about.

Without doubt theri best game was the 1-1 draw with Scotland. Iran scored both goals too – the one , a stupid own goal conceded by Eskandarian in a mix-up with his goalkeeper on the edge of the penalty box.

Judges by Iran’s performance, all those British managers still face a mountain of work to bring the Middle East nations up to a reasonable standard.


August 1978

Derick Allsop’s notebook


The dust hadn’t settled on Iran’s first World Cup expedition when manager Heshmat Mohajerani started working on his plans for the next one.

Mohajerani had said he intended to return to club football after Argentina, but the influence of the Crown Prince may well keep him in charge of the national team.
And already Mohajerani has sketched a development programme which will take Iran through the Asian Games at the end of the year and the Moscow Olympics in 1980 to the World Cup in Spain.
Many of the older players, including the splendid captain Ali Parvin, will go. A new team will be built around the young men who gained precious experience this summer in Mendoza and Cordoba.

Mohajerani said: ‘We have learned a lot from Argentina, not all of it pleasant, but we have learned. And that is just what we said we would do.”
“Our players are amateurs and have never experienced anything like this before. They were alongside the best teams in the world, sampling the atmosphere of the big time for the first time. Now we must use the experience we have gained as we begin the four-year cycle all over again. We cannot afford to sit back for a rest. We must keep going forward, looking to improve all the time.”
To that end Mohajerani hopes to give his new team competition against top class sides before they line up in Bangkok.
“Matches against good foreign opposition are essential,’ he said, ‘There is no substitute. This is the way you keep the momentum going and keep the players in touch.”
More than half the Argentina side could be replaced as Mohajerani looks for the foundations of his side for Spain. One man who will be retained as a key figure is Hassan Roshan.
The little forward didn’t complete a match in this summer’s championship, again falling victim of knee and muscle injuries. But against Peru he gave glimpses of the skill, Instinct and finishing ability which make him a quality player.
“He has cruel luck with injuries,’ said Mohajerani. ‘But he is a very good player and over the next four years we hope he will play a big part in our plans.”
The unpleasant experiences he mentioned concerned some of the refereeing in Argentina. Iran conceded four penalties, two against Holland and two against Peru.
“We don’t want to go on complaining about referees but I do think some of those decisions were harsh and left us with heavy defeats we didn’t deserve.”

Certainly against Peru they were given little reward for their imaginative play. They had the better of the game for long spells but Roshan alone provided a genuine threat and they went down 4-1.
Finishing, indeed, was a major problem. They played with two men up and were reluctant to push men forward from midfield. That was their other chief failing — lack of confidence.
It didn’t help them to face Holland in their first match. They were clearly overawed and despite the penalties were perhaps fortunate to get away with a 3-0 defeat. Their outstanding performance was in holding Scotland to a 1-1 draw. Again they were ruled by caution in the early stages, but after giving away an own goal came back to equalise and almost snatch a remarkable victory. With more confidence and determination Iran should make an even bigger impact on the game over the next four years.

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