MARGAO: High on confidence after a strong show in the group stage, Asian powerhouse Iran would look to keep their unbeaten run intact when they face Mexico in a round 16 match of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, here on Tuesday.
Iran have enjoyed a good run in this tournament, beating Guinea (3-1), Germany (4-0) and Costa Rica (3-0) to top Group C.
They had would be looking to keep the momentum going in their bid to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in their fourth appearance in the tournament.
Iran will, however, be without their key defender and captain Mohammed Ghobeishavi for tomorrow’s match after he received a yellow card against Costa Rica, his second in the tournament.
Coach Abbas Chamanianian took Ghobeishavi’s absence in his stride, saying these things happen in football.
“Our main focus for tomorrow’s match is to play a collective game just like we did in the group phase especially against Germany which was the best in the tournament.”
“Now we are looking to do the same against Mexico who will pose a threat with their physical built and stamina and speedy run,” Iran coach said.
Iran’s confidence is sky high after three wins on the trot, especially after a 4-0 thrashing of European powerhouse Germany in their second match. Their strikers have been among goals, defence has looked compact so far and they have conceded just one goal in the tournament.
Younis Delfi and Allahyar Sayyad have been brilliant upfront as and have been involved in almost every chance Iran have created.
Mohammad Ghaderi and Mohamad Sharifi have been lively in the midfield. Iran are good in the air and take advantage of the dead ball situations. And they are fast on the counter- attacks as well.
The farthest Iran had progressed at the FIFA U-17 World Cup was the round of 16. They’ve matched that already and must be looking to go further and improve their record. Coach Abbas Chamanyan said they expect to at least be in the semi-finals.
Two-time Champions Mexico have not had a great tournament so far, considering that they came here as Central American champions.
They finished third in Group F and qualified for the round of 16 without a win — as one of the four best third- placed team. They earned the least number of points (two points) in the group stage among the round of 16 qualifiers.
They drew their first match against Iraq (1-1) and then lost to England (2-3) before drawing against Chile (0-0).
Mexico, who play a one-touch game and are known for their attacking game, have not lived up to the expectations. And they will face a stern test tomorrow against a confident Iran.
Mexico coach Mario Arteaga said he wants to forget the past performances and look afresh for tomorrow’s match.