The US coach Gregg Berhalter said politics would not come into his team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran.
Berhalter’s team shared spoils in goalless draw with mighty England at the Al Bayt Stadium in Group B on Friday.
The result sets up a tantalizing clash with Iran next Tuesday when a victory for either side would guarantee a place in the last 16, AFP reported.
It’s for the first time two team will lock horn in the World Cup since 1998 World Cup, where Iran defeated the US 2-1.
Berhalter insisted that while tensions between the US and Iranian governments remain, politics would not enter Tuesday’s occasion.
“I’ve played in three different countries, and I coached in Sweden, and the thing about soccer is you meet so many different people from all around the world, and you’re united by a common love of the sport,” Berhalter said.
“I envision the game being hotly contested for the fact that both teams want to advance to the next round – not because of politics or because of relations between our countries.
Berhalter acknowledged however that the stakes for the game could not be higher, describing it as his team’s “first knockout game” of the World Cup.
“We win or we’re out of the World Cup, and that’s going to be the focus of ours in preparing the team,” Berhalter said.
The U.S. are currently third in Group B with two points from two draws, trailing Iran in second, who reignited their campaign with a 2-0 win over Wales earlier Friday.
England, who lead the group with four points, face Wales in their final game.
That means that the US will secure a place in the knockout rounds if they beat Iran.
“Any time you’re in a World Cup and you get to go into the last game controlling your destiny, that’s a pretty good thing,” Berhalter said.
By TEHRAN TIMES