Coach: Nasser Ebrahimi
Iran , judging by the way they played at the national stadium last night, are evidently not the potential Asian Cup winning side that most people have made them to be.
And it took a revitalized Indian team to expose Iran’s weaknesses before emerging with a result which was, if nothing else, a clear-cut “victory” for the underdogs. Iran were the more aggressive team, though it was anything but a one-sided match, as India who seem bent on slowing down the pace, always gave the impression that they would score.
The Iranians allowed them too much room in the midfield and consequently India won enough of the ball to mount their own attacks. But in the end, their efforts came to naught; it was mainly for want of a good forward that they failed to take advantage of a shaky Iranian defense , well , all except last man Rahim Meerakhoori who did a splendid job of getting away the high balls that the opposition kept sending over.
All India needed really was a player like Iran’s Abdolai Changiz , a nippy skillful player who was a constant menace whenever he had possession. A fine example of his talents was seen in the 31st minute when he cleverly ran into a long ball down the middle , only to see his shot bounce off the Indian goalkeeper Atanu Bhattacherjee.
Most of the time though, it was tight marking by the Indians, particularly their center-backs Tarun Dey and Surbraja Bhatacherjee and solid goalkeeping that kept Changiz and the other Iranian tormentors out. Iranian coach Nasser Ebrahimi blamed the stalemate on his player’s complacency, adding that their victories against UAE and China had gone to their heads.
Complacent or not , Iran’s problems began to tell as early as the third minute when they allowed Mauricio Alfonso to slip in a shot that bounced off goalkeeper Behrouz Soltani. Later on , a header by Krishanu Dey was well saved by Soltani, though on one occasion , he had to go on all four to stop a stinging shot from Alfonso.
India’s Yugoslav coach Ciric Milovan said that he was satisfied with the result “It was a pity that we did not play like this against Singapore and the UAE”
Man of the Match: Abdolai Changiz (Iran)