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Iran U-17 Plays From a Foundation of Discipline: On the Way to Make History

Iran U-17 Plays From a Foundation of Discipline:  On the Way to Make HistoryIran U-17 Plays From a Foundation of Discipline:  On the Way to Make History

Iran emerged victorious in the Round of 16 at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, India, after beating Mexico 2-1 which helped it advance into the last eight for the first time at its fourth attempt. According to FIFA website, defeat meant a backward step for the Mexicans who reached the semi-finals at the last three U-17 world finals.

Three months after becoming the first Asian country to reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Iran achieved another footballing high, with the nation’s U-17s qualifying for the quarterfinals of the competition for the first time ever. On their three previous appearances in the event, the Iranians were eliminated in the group phase once and the last 16 twice.

This time, with four wins from four matches, scoring 12 goals and conceding just two, Iran continued its unstoppable march to find a place among the last eight teams.

There are a number of factors in the team's performance which have led to their success. One thing that has been clear in every game is that Iran plays out from a foundation of discipline. If the opponents have the ball, all of the players often stay in their own half and close down the space.

“Our first objective is to keep a clean sheet,” Iran defender Taha Shariati told FIFA.com. “Our second objective is to score a goal, and our third objective is to defend our advantage and win the match.”

The Asian side waits for a mistake and once players win the ball, they move it forward at lightning speed with just a few passes.

 

 Team Spirit

Iran’s selfless and passionate playing style is evident long before kick-off. During the warm-up, substitutes applaud the starting 11 as they complete their final exercise. A few minutes later, a loud cheer of encouragement goes up from inside the changing room before the players make their way towards the pitch.

“We are one team, and we can only succeed with solidarity and team spirit,” said captain Mohammad Ghobeishavi.

The team has had less possession than the opponents in all four of matches so far. However, the team has remained in control of every game.

"Although spending so much time behind the ball definitely saps your energy, we give our all for the team’s success, and winning the match means we’ve achieved our goal,” said Mohammad Sharifi, who dictates play in midfield alongside Ghobeishavi and has already scored two penalties in India.

 Strong Players

While Sharifi shone in central midfield in Iran’s first game, strike pair Allahyar Sayyad and Younes Delfi were the standout performers against Germany. Ghobeishavi was the team’s lynchpin in the encounter with Costa Rica before goalkeeper Ali Gholamzadeh kept Mexico at bay with a series of impressive saves. Despite their overarching focus on teamwork, the Iranians have a heady mix of genuinely strong individuals in several key positions that could yet allow them to go all the way in India. “We have our sights set on the big goal of reaching the final and winning the World Cup,” said Shariati. Iran will face Spain in the quarterfinals. One thing is certain – the young Iranians are determined to continue making history.

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