80 million Iranians to support Team Melli: Ali Daei

Tasnim– Legendary striker Ali Daei believes the support of the Iranian people could play a major role in pushing Carlos Queiroz and his team to success at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Team Melli will begin its campaign against Morocco in St. Petersburg on June 15 as Queiroz attempts to steer the country to its first-ever appearance in the knockout rounds after four group stage exits.

But with games against 2010 FIFA World Cup winner Spain and reigning European champion Portugal to come after the opener against the North African nation, Daei stresses the task that lies ahead will be a major challenge.

“It’s very difficult, but nothing is impossible in football,” the man, who led Iran to the 1998 and 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals, told the-afc.com.

“We still have hope but in reality the chances are low. Consistency, especially in defense, will be very important, but the most important thing will be having 80 million people behind the team.

“Knowing that 80 million people are behind you gives you a remarkable spirit and motivation. You can do things you might not be able to do in other situations. It can help you overcome big problems, big challenges. It is a remarkable driver for any player,” he added.

Daei was a beneficiary of that enthusiastic backing on many occasions, both playing at home in the imposing Azadi Stadium and on the road for Iran at the FIFA World Cup and the AFC Asian Cup finals.

“There were many games where I felt some spectacular emotions because of that support, Iran against Australia (in World Cup qualifying in 1997) is certainly one of those, Iran against Korea Republic in 1996 in the Asian Cup too, and against the Koreans in the Asian Cup in Beijing in 2004,” he said.

“When I was playing in those times it was very difficult for any opponent to come to the Azadi Stadium because of the atmosphere. The visiting teams are always under pressure, either clubs or national teams,” Daei said.