It was a difficult match for us: Hamid Estili

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Tasnim – SONGKHLA, Iran head coach Hamid Estili says his players fell asleep and forgot the rules in the match against South Korea.

Iran lost to the Korean team 2-1 in Group C of the AFC U-23 Championship on Sunday.

Team Melli Omid created early chances, but the Koreans took full control of the first half from the 20-minute mark onwards, controlling proceedings and scoring goals through Lee Dong-jun and Cho Gue-sung to take a 2-0 half-time lead.

Reza Shekari pulled a goal back after the interval, but it was a case of too little, too late for Iran, who must now overturn a three-point deficit to second placed Uzbekistan on Matchday Three if it is to salvage a place in the knockout stage.

“This was a really difficult match for us,” reflected former senior national team stalwart Estili.

“I think we started the game very well. The first 20 minutes we played well, didn’t make many mistakes, made a great chance for Mehdi Ghaedi and could have had the first goal, but after that I think some of the players fell asleep and forgot the rules (of the team),” he added.

“In those minutes (at the end of the first half) Korea Republic scored two goals. Some of the players didn’t run enough for us at that time. We had to make some changes for the second half, and in the second half everything was different. We had more control of the game and more of the ball. We made chances, we scored a goal and we could have scored others,” Estili stated.

“I think we deserved to take a point from this match. I think we played well in the second half.”

The loss comes as a blow to Iran’s hopes of ending their 44-year Olympic football qualification drought.

They will now need to win against already-eliminated China on Wednesday to stand any chance of advancing in the tournament, but despite the damaging result suffered against the Koreans, Estili wasn’t wholly dissatisfied with his team’s performance.

“Between two matches we had just three days, and maybe our players were a little tired, but you need 23 ready players for this competition,” said Estili.

“Korea Republic changed many players and had a really ready team, but my players were tired in the second half. They did their very best to come back and get the result, but unfortunately we finished the match with this defeat,” the Iran coach concluded.

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