April 13, 2024

Japan victory a turning point for Iranian football, says Ghalenoei

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TT – TEHRAN,  Head coach Amir Ghalenoei believes that Iran’s 2-1 victory over Japan in the quarterfinals of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 can be a turning point for the nation’s football.

Team Melli came from a goal down at Education City Stadium to defeat the Samurai Blue thanks to two second-half goals from Mohammad Mohebi and Alireza Jahanbakhsh to reach the last four of the AFC Asian Cup for the second time in a row, with defending champions Qatar their next opponents.

“Asian football should be happy with this match, and we should be proud of the performance of our players who gave everything for the fans,” said Ghalenoei, who had led Iran to the quarter-finals of the 2007 edition.

“I want to say thank you to everyone who supported us along the way, thanks to my family for everything they endured in these years. This match can be a turning point for Iranian football, not just for the senior national team, but also for the U23s, U19s and the whole football setup,” he added.

“I think everybody should have the belief in Iranian people. We had a lot of great Iranian coaches in history who never got the chance to coach in Europe.

“If we want to have a higher standard of performance, we should have a long-term plan, infrastructure, stadiums and most importantly the support of the authorities in Iran.”

Having lost to Japan 3-0 in the semi-finals of the previous edition in the United Arab Emirates, Iran struggled to keep up with Japan early in the game, but they came back a different side after the restart, overpowering their opponents as goalkeeper Zion Suzuki did well to prevent his side from conceding more goals.

“We respect Japan football because they are a big team and they have good players who play in top European leagues. Coach Hajime Moriyasu is a friend of mine and a big character. I want to say congratulations to Japan too on their performance.

“We started a bit slow and made some mistakes, but our confidence increased step by step, we applied the high press and tried to put the three central midfielders of Japan out of the game, and I think those changes helped us win the game,” Ghalenoei concluded.

Source: the-afc