Fantasy Pickups of the Week:

Soccer-Outsiders Iran prepare to make case for the defence

Reuters

By Keith Weir

CURITIBA, Brazil, June 15 (Reuters) - Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is refusing to be seduced by the free-flowing soccer that is thrilling World Cup fans, saying his team will show the value of good defending when they face Nigeria.

Iran, playing in their fourth World Cup, have won only one match at a finals and face a tough start against the African champions in Group F on Monday.

The vastly experienced Queiroz, who has coached Portugal and Real Madrid and worked as Alex Ferguson's assistant at Manchester United, said Spain's 5-1 thrashing by the Netherlands showed the downside of playing an open game.

"If you believe good football is only attacking and scoring goals, check the newspapers in Spain and ask them what they think about the result," he told reporters on Sunday.

"You can play good football when you defend well. To defend is part of the game," he added.

"If we need to defend, I'm telling you we are going to defend. If we need to suffer, I'm telling you, we are going to suffer."

Queiroz said that Iran's political and economic isolation had made it harder to get his players ready for Brazil. The Iranians have had few warm-up matches against top international sides, hampering their preparations.

However, he believed a strong team spirit, fuelled by a sense of how much soccer means to Iranians, would help to ensure that his team was competitive.

"It is always possible to dream," he said.

"Nigeria are favourites but nobody is big enough to win all the time and nobody is small enough to lose all the time."

Queiroz, born and raised in Mozambique, lavished praise on the west Africans who were a force in the global game in the 1990s but have not won a World Cup match for 16 years.

"The Nigerian team is a team full of stars, with great players playing in Europe," he said, suggesting the pressure was on them to live up to their reputations.

"Nigeria is one of the nations that is playing this World Cup with one thing on its mind, to be in the finals or the semi-finals."

(Writing by Keith Weir; additional reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Soccer
View Comments (0)