MNA | Mohammad Ali Haqshenas: As the only remaining team of Group B in 2018 World Cup, Spain eliminated from Russia, public opinion and even some experts are beginning to cast doubt on whether Iran was in ‘Group of Death’ or not.
Iran national football team was drawn in Group B of 2018 World Cup along with 2012 World Champion Spain, 2016 Europe Champion Portugal and 2018 African Nations Champion Morocco.
When the Brazilian football legend Cafu displayed the slip of Iran during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Kremlin Palace on December 1, Iranians were filled with excitement.
People had diverse views on this incident; many felt disappointed and believed that Iran has no chance against these big names. While others insisted that Iran always plays well against great teams.
Many believed that Iran was certainly in the ‘Group of Death’, saying that a decent elimination from group stage can be the best result for Team Melli; and it happened, but now the group’s level of toughness is called into question.
Iran won the first game against Morocco, but lost the match to Spain and gained 1 point from Cristiano Ronaldo’s side.
With 4 points, Team Melli stood at the third place of Group B, just behind 5-pointed Spain and Portugal, and ‘decently’ eliminated from the World Cup.
In the round of 16, Uruguay defeated Portugal 2-1 on June 30 to destroy Ronaldo’s dreams for completing his awards collection with Golden Boot and world champion.
And Spain, the other remaining team of Group B, lost the Sunday match to Russia in penalty kicks to prove that it is far from the ideal La Roja.
Iran’s great defensive walls was repeatedly praised by many experts both in the country and beyond and especially by general public. However, the defeat of Iran’s ex-opponents in the round of 16, combined with the performance of other Asian representatives, has created a wave of doubt towards the actual performance of Team Melli.
Iran’s traditional rivals in Asia, namely Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, had compelling performance in some of their games.
Despite the loss against Poland in the final match, Japan advanced to the knockout stage to be the only representative of Asia in next round.
South Korea stunned the football world with a 2-0 victory over title-holder Germany. This result was enough to send the Mannschaft home and list the Asian team as a ‘phenomenon’.
And Saudi Arabia had a true comeback against Egypt on their last match, winning the African team 2-1 which partly alleviated the pain of that humiliating 5-0 defeat to Russia at the 2018 World Cup opening game.
Iranian people were happy (and maybe still are) with the unprecedented result of their national team in the history of World Cups. Even after the team lost the match to Spain, some people came to streets to praise their team.
All in all, it seems that Group B wasn’t really the ‘Group of Death’, and general public’s level of satisfaction from Team Melli seems to have decreased after recent incidents.
Queiroz’s men now eye to reclaim the title of 2019 AFC Asian Cup after some 42 years. The competitions is going to be held in United Arab Emirates from January 5 to February 1.