April 15, 2024
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Persianfootball.com – BELO HORIZONTE, Iran will take on Argentina on Saturday June 21 at Estádio Mineirão in the Group F match of 2014 FIFA World Cup. This year it will be Argentina’s 16th appearance at the World Cup Finals and must be noted that they have qualified for every tournament since 1974, as for Iran only the 4th appearance.  This match will not be first between the two, Team Melli had managed to tie La Albiceleste 37 years ago in Real Madrid 75th Anniversary.

La Albiceleste, twice World Champions in 1978 and 1986 respectively. Always have been victors over Asian opponents at the World Cup Finals, twice versus Korea 3-1 in 1986 and 4-1 in 2010, a narrow 1-0 win over Japan in 1998. So far have never met West Asian team at the World Cup.  The current Argentine team is powered by the so-called ‘Fantastic Quartet’ Messi, Higuaín, Agüero and Di Maria. The squad are also World Cup Experienced. The following players will be playing at their second World Cup, Sergio Romero, Mariano Andujar, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Angel Di Maria and Martin Demichelis. Whilst Lionel Messi, Maxi Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano will all be playing at their third consecutive world premier sporting event.

International experience is something that current Team Melli lacks. There are only four players in the current Iran national team who had previously been in World Cup, namely Andranik Teymourian, Javad Nekounam and Masoud Shojaei, with 3, 2 and 1 match each at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Also Amir Hossein Sadeghi was a member of that World Cup squad however did not play any matches.

Most certainly international experience is one of the success factors for any team. In 1977, Iran squad that faced Argentina, consisted of footballers with Olympic Games experience. The captain Ali Parvin had played in 1972 Munich and 1976 Montreal Summer Olympic Games. Mohammad Sadeghi the goal scorer had played in the 1972 Olympics and others like Hassan Nazari, Andranik Eskandarian, Ebrahim Ghasempour, Nasrollah Abdollahi, Hassan Rowshan and Ghafour Jahani were all members of Iranian team that reached the Quarter Finals of 1976 Olympic Games. All Iranian footballers who faced Argentina in 1977 then went on to the 1978 World Cup apart from Nasser Nabavi. Iran managed to humiliate Scotland with a shock 1-1 draw which
both goals of the match were scored by Iranian footballers. Despite losses to Netherlands and Peru, it must be noted that at that tournament Team Melli conceded four goals from the penalty-spot.

The previous World Cup appearance for Iran was in 2006 and is something that most Iranians would rather forget, the squad had big names and there was high expectation of the team to do well. Three footballers were former AFC Player of the years, Ali Daei in 1999, Mehdi Mahdavikia in 2003 and Ali Karimi in 2004. The trio were boosted up with Bundesliga-based Vahid Hashemian, Fereydoun Zandi and Serie-A based Rahman Rezaei. However, despite all these big names and considerable vast amount of international experience, it all went haywire, as the injury-hit, politically-surrounded squad who also went through some internal-conflicts under performed and finished bottom of their group.

The good news is that current Team Melli is one of the underdogs amongst the 32 participants in Brazil, there are no big names in the squad. Despite lack of international experience, there is peace and harmony within the squad, boosted by a very knowledgeable coaching-staff. Rest assured Team Melli are not going to be tourists in Brazil.

In history of Iranian football, players had proven what they are capable of. Victory over USA at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, humiliation of Scotland at the 1978 FIFA World Cup, elimination of Australia at the 1998 FIFA World Cup playoffs, three consecutive Championships at the AFC Asian Cup 1968, 1972 and 1976, a record held by Iran as no other Asian team had been able to win three consecutive tournaments.

Also at the World Cup Finals, Team Melli certainly frustrated their opponents with their man-to-man marking, the world surely remembers the frustrating looks of Predrag Mijatovic, Claudio Reyna, Jared Borghetti, Cristiano Rolando, Luis Figo and the nervous Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sánchez. The world surely remembers the relief felt by footballers from Yugoslavia, Germany, Mexico and Portugal after their 90 minute struggle versus Iran on the green field.

The bad news is that Team Melli had failed to score versus Netherlands (in 1978), Yugoslavia and Germany (in 1998) and Portugal (in 2006). Hopefully this time Team Melli should improve their attack and score in every match.

The reality is that Argentina has never demolished Asian opponents at the World Cup Finals. However they have done that to teams from other confederations such as 6-0 ultimate destruction of Peru in 1978 and Serbia-Montenegro in 2006 with the same score line, 5-0 demolition of Jamaica in 1998 and 4-0 hammering of Greece in 1994.

The verdict, well Argentina are one of the contenders for this year’s trophy and surely everyone expect them to win this match. However anything in Football can happen and hopefully Team Melli will look at this match as a learning experience and finish with a respectful result. Most desirable for Team Melli fans would be to keep the Head-To-Head stats remain unchanged.

Head to Head Match Details as per teammelli.com’s match database:

Date: 22/03/1977 – Venue: Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid.
Referee: Angel Franco Martinez (Spain) – Attendance: 35,000.

Real Madrid 75th AnniversaryArgentina vs Iran 1:1(1:0) 4-1 penalties.
Goals: Daniel Bertoni(14′, penalty), Mohammad Sadeghi(79′).
Penalty Kicks: 4-1
for Argentina (Benitez, Olguin, Ardilles, Bertoni)
for Iran (Parvin)
Missed: Nazari, Adelkhani.

Iran: Bahram Mavadat(Nasser Nabavi, 40) – Andranik Eskandarian,Nasrollah Abdollahi,Hossein Kazerani,Hassan Nazari – Mohammad Sadeghi, Ali Parvin(c), Ebrahim Ghasempour – Ghafour Jahani, Mohammadreza Adelkhani, Hassan Rowshan.

Head Coach: Heshmat Mohajerani.

Argentina: Hugo Gatti – Alberto Tarantini, Jorge Olguin, Daniel Killer, Jorge Carrascosa(c) – Osvaldo Ardilles, Américo Gallego, Ricardo Villa(Jorge Jose Benitez, 59), Rene Houseman(Oscar Ortiz, 59) – Leopoldo Luque, Daniel Bertoni.

Head Coach: César Luis Menotti.