Branco: No team in Asia is stronger than Iran

Discussion in 'Iran' started by Mani, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. Mani

    Mani BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 1, 2004
    Nat'l Team:

    PDFC - Below you find a translation of an interview with Branco Ivankovic the head coach of Iranian soccer national team that has been published in Iransoprt newspaper.

    Q) When we look back in Iran games against the opponents in the last Asian games, we see many inconsistencies. In one game such as against Korea Iran plays a beautiful soccer while it displays a very disappointing game against Oman.

    A) I am quite satisfied with Iran performance. You have to realize that Asian cup hosts the best of teams in Asia. In such games any team is capable of defeating any other team in particular teams that advance to the semi finals. It is natural that anywhere in the world and specially in Iran everyone considers his/her team the best there is, however if we look at this logically we see that every team has chances. In Asian cup Iran was in a very hard group. We were very successful for variety of reasons. First we did not lose to any team in the field and every team that we played thought they could win the cup. Oman and Japan in preliminaries, and China and Bahrain later on. We had an excellent game against South Korea as you mentioned and we scored 4 goals against them. About the loss to China if we could have scored on the penalty shots in the final shoot outs then we were talking about a team that potentially won the cup. In the last game we defeated Bahrain which currently is one of the powerful teams in Asia. Japan was very lucky against them in this tournament. The refereeing as you know was also another difficulty we needed to deal with. After the preliminaries they disciplined our entire defense players. Against China we played with only 10 players almost the entire game. Against Bahrain again we played with 10 players for about 30 minutes. Despite all these facts we got good result. This success happened when most of our players did not have the prior Asian cup experience. More than half were our U-21 team that was experiencing the national games for the first time. This is also a good achievement as we will have a stronger team in the coming years.

    Q) Some younger players could not avoid getting into unnecessary problems although you had reminded them to avoid such issues. What are your thoughts?

    A) This situation happens everywhere in the world. We have a very young team and that is where most of those issues came about. Our team as you mentioned were told not to get involved with avoidable issues that cost a team but fear of losing had greater effect on the players. Even Mehdi Mahdavikia, a player that has done the least amount of fouls internally as well as internationally commits a foul at 92nd minute that cost him a red card and ineligibility in playing the next match. Mastering to control the temper needs to be worked at the club level as well. Although in the game against Qatar our players kept their cool when they were behind and came with a win.

    Q) By now everyone admits that you are a very effective and capable coach. In the games against Qatar and Jordan we had major challenges and yet we came up victorious. How do you see those games?

    A) To answer your question briefly I have to say those games showd how reasonable and professional our players played the games. To add to the challenge we played two strong teams namely AS Roma and Germany. Those were critical games as if we had lost to them by many goals that could have had negative effects on our players. Fortunately our players believed that they could play any teams after those preparation games. No matter how strong those teams are. Jordan only needed a tie in their home while Qatar was ahead until late in the game. Players such as Kazemian and Azizi helped us when they came as substitute to help change the result into our favor. Remember that Jordan is ranked fifth after Japan, Iran, South Korea and Saudi Arabia while Qatar was well prepared by spending on their football and hiring coaches such as Trosie as their coach.

    Q) Next question is about our defensive line. There are many critics that claim there are times when our players only watch when the opponent scores.

    A) I accept that our team sometimes appear weak and commit unexplainable mistake but I do not agree that we have a bad defense. In the last games we only appeared weak against China and the main reason was disciplinary actions against our players that forced us to use all our young players. Also when a team scores 4 goals in one game that opens up the field for counter attacks. Our defensive line executed beautifully against Japan, a team that won the cup. Bahrain scored on direct kick after a foul and they did not create any chances on Iran during the game. Now tell me when a team only conceives 3 goals is that a sign of the weak defense? Jordan did not create any chances against us in their own home while Germany beside the two goals that they scored only created one more chance to score during the entire match. Our defensive line needs to improve but it is not weak. We have Kaabi, Nosrati, Rezaie and Zareh that all play in different teams and need to get in sync playing each other.

    Q) How much a presence of a player such as Vahid Hashemian can help the team? On another note every time our team enters the game with attacking style although we may conceive a goal we create and score many chances. Can we adopt that style in our team?

    A) About Hashemian he is a very clever and talented player. He also plays for one of the top five teams in the world. Of course he has a positive impact in our team. I am very happy to have him in my team and I hope he continues to play for Iran.

    Q) There are many that say in the next round of pre world cup qualifier games, Iran is at least stronger than 4 or 5 of the teams. Some also claim that South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia are stronger than Iran. What are your thoughts?

    A) We have a very good team with a constant improvement in the team. Our players are getting better everyday. Based on that and not personal feeling I claim that there is no team in Asia that is stronger than Iran. I also have to say that in the last 8 teams any team is capable of defeating any team. That is what makes soccer exciting. No team can claim a victory before any match. We do not mind to end up in any group. Everything is in our own hands.

    Q) In the recent time we have noticed that the national team no longer goes to long term camps that used to postpone the internal leagues. Even with critical games against Jordan and Ghatar the IPL league continued to be held.

    A) I think IPL games help the players to be in top shape and I support that. It is also proven that 10 days is enough to prepare for national games. In long term camps we also can not afford to bring our international players due to their obligations to their clubs.

    Q) There are many young talents in the country that are not discovered or the league coaches do not dare to play them. How do we discover them? For example Ali Karimi when discovered was not playing for a big club?

    A) The case is different now. We are watching throughout the country for new talents.

    Q) We have to confess that you are a very good coach for different reasons. Do you think we need a solid foundation and system in order to go to the world cup and how are you making such a system?

    A) I support such a system. We are working to analyze and come up with plans to prepare our strategies. These steps will be talked in details in coming months. We have also communicated that with the players that we are starting our preparation not a month before the world cup but the first match of the pre world cup game. After finishing those games and hope to God qualifying we will arrange some friendly games against good teams to prepare for the world cup. I do not know about which teams yet but the games will be around August of next year,

    Q) Are you inviting new players?

    A) Of course. Until the last day whoever is most ready he is welcome to the team.

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