Iran Coach : Afshin Ghotbi (USA)
Korea DPR Coach: Tong-Sop Jo (Korea DPR)
Karim Ansarifard Goal Clip
Coach Afshin Ghotbi was delighted to see Iran qualify for the last eight of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011ï¿½ with a game to spare but ominously warned there was still more to come from his talented side.
Despite featuring four changes due to illness, Karim Ansari Fard's second-half goal proved the difference against a resilient DPR Korea team at Qatar Sports Club Stadium as Iran followed up their opening 2-1 victory over Iraq with another win and ensure they will claim one of the two quarter-final spots from Group D.
ï¿½The qualification of our team, for me, is a fantastic accomplishment,ï¿½ said Ghotbi.
ï¿½Our group was the ï¿½group of deathï¿½ and I still believe it is the most difficult group in the tournament. To achieve this result two games in a row, I'm very proud of my players.
ï¿½Iran is capable of playing much better football. We will show that in the coming games. We will be fitter and more confident and hopefully you'll see much better performances from our team.ï¿½
In a contest short on clear-cut chances, Ansari Fard produced a moment of class when he converted Pejman Nouri's cross in the 63rd minute to seal the points, and Ghotbi felt that after a lacklustre opening 45 minutes from his men it was their willingness to take the game to their opponents that ultimately proved the difference.
ï¿½We (Iran and DPR Korea) have a completely different vision,ï¿½ he added.
ï¿½We want to attack, we want to create chances, we want to play exciting football and they just want to defend and wait for the right moment to counter. I think the difference was we were better today. Iran has a lot of bright stars like Ansari Fard coming to the international scene.
ï¿½Playing North Korea is always difficult, they defend with numbers, they are organised, they are disciplined, they fight, they have pace and they are dangerous on the counter-attack.
ï¿½I think we showed patience and were able to pick our moments and the times when we were able to move the ball with the speed that we needed to, we were able to find space and eventually score the goal.
ï¿½We didn't start the game the way we wanted. First, our players knew how important the result of this game was. Iranian players are very emotional and sometimes their emotion gets the best of them.
ï¿½Second, we didn't stretch them, our wide players didn't do their jobs so well and our right and left-backs were the free players. But they were not involved and they were not creating. We improved on that in the second-half.
ï¿½Third was the quality of the North Koreans' defence, they defend very well. They have so many players behind the ball and are so quick at closing down so it takes a good quality of football to open them up.ï¿½
DPR Korea coach Jo Tong-sop felt his side's inability to defend set-pieces was ultimately their undoing as their hopes of reaching the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011ï¿½ quarter-finals suffered a setback with a 1-0 defeat to Iran.
The only goal of the Group D game came in the 63rd minute when Pejman Nouri latched onto a throw in down the left flank before whipping in a cross that Karim Ansari Fard managed to steer past keeper Ri Myong-guk and into the far corner to send his side into the quarter-finals with a game to spare.
Jo was not too downcast over his side's performance but rued one lapse in concentration that ultimately cost them three points.
ï¿½I think the players did well according to the instructions but the weakness for our team was the set-pieces and the throw-ins and we conceded the goal from the throw in,ï¿½ he said.
ï¿½I instructed the players to do the same as they did in the first-half, which was to not to let the Iranian team play through balls, concentrate on stopping their forward line and be wary of set-pieces and throw-ins.
ï¿½In terms of attacking, I told them to employ quick passes and good movement to help us to score.ï¿½
DPR Korea failed to create any real clear-cut chances until the game moved into injury time and Hong Yong-jo almost grabbed a dramatic equaliser but the striker saw his effort from 12 yards graze the bar, much to the disappointment of the contingent of Korean fans that had turned out to support their team.
It leaves Jo's side with one point from two games and needing to beat Iraq in their final game to have any chance of progressing to the last eight.
Despite failing to find the back of the net in 180 minutes of football, the North Korean boss stressed he would not adopt a more attacking approach against the defending champions.
ï¿½Of course we have only one point, so the next match is very critical for our team to go for the knockout stage but we will try our best to win the match so that we can proceed to the next round,ï¿½ he added.
ï¿½In terms of the system, we converted to 4-4-2 and we combine attack and defence and in this way we created new tactics for our team.
ï¿½For the next match, I think we have to again put the emphasis on defence and try to score goals on the counter-attack.ï¿½