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11 Jul 2015
Fighting spirit and Hosseini heroics drive Iran forward
The Iranian side is in an excellent position after knocking off Spain in their opening match
There were just two minutes remaining of the opening encounter in Group C and Spain were leading 5-4 versus Iran, the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013 runners-up well placed to kick off their Portugal 2015 campaign with a win. Yet while given ample proof of the Iranians’ fighting spirit and the talents of keeper Peyman Hosseini, the lack of time on the clock meant the Spaniards were surely not expecting their opponents to turn the scoreline on its head.
And though Iran’s 6-5 comeback success cannot be classed as a ‘shock’ or even a competition first – the AFC outfit having beaten La Roja at Rio de Janeiro 2007 – a stirring and memorable victory for Marco Octavio’s charges more than justified the exuberant celebrations come the final whistle. Two minutes from the end, Spain’s Ezequiel was unable to prevent Mohammad Ahmadzadeh’s effort from going into net for the equaliser and, with just 43 seconds on the clock, Mohammad Mokhtari seized on a rebound to grab the winner.
“We showed so much heart!” said Iran’s Brazilian supremo Octavio, to FIFA.com. “That wasn’t any old opponent, Spain have a fantastic team and put everything into going for the win. But thanks to the determination and heart this side has, anything is possible.”
Options between the sticks
Over the course of the opening two periods and much of the third, first-choice custodian Hosseini was a continued source of frustration for the Spanish attackers – pulling off a whole clutch of fine stops. But, with three minutes remaining and La Roja ahead, Octavio opted to switch him for understudy Hamid Behzadpour.
“I made the change so we’d attack better from the back and because he [Behzadpour] has got a better shot. Fortunately it paid off,” explained the coach, before hailing Hosseini for his pre-substitution heroics.
“In my opinion, [Spain’s] Dona is the best keeper in the world. But, on today’s showing, Hosseini was on a par with him. What a great performance,” added the strategist, whose team’s next Group C encounter is against the mighty Brazil.
“What a tough game, but what a performance from our team!” said a delighted Hosseini, speaking in the mixed zone in Espinho’s Estadio da Baia. “I couldn’t be happier with what my team-mates and I managed to do.”
"And does opening with a win in the section labelled Portugal 2015’s toughest mean Iran can take their foot slightly off the pedal? “We can’t afford to think like that,” he added. “Brazil and Mexico are both great teams and neither will make our lives easy. Even so, today’s win boosts our confidence still further.”
“We want to go toe-to-toe with Brazil,” vowed coach Octavio, as the conversation drew to a close. “That’s our philosophy and we’re not going to change that, however strong the opponents."
"We’ve a commitment to beach soccer and that commitment is to never show fear out on the field. We’ve got more than enough quality and courage to do that.” A Seleção, you have been warned…
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