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Iran silent for national anthem as Queiroz is hit for six again

England encountered few problems beating Iran 6-2 in Monday’s Group B in Doha. On target for Gareth Southgate’s Lions were Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Sako (2), Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish. Mehdi Taremi pulled a couple back for Iran in the second half, including a stoppage-time penalty.

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Iran players chose not to sing their country’s national anthem before kick-off in an apparent show of solidarity with anti-government protesters amid discontent over their reluctance to speak out. The players were solemn and silent as the anthem was played while thousands of Iranian fans in the stands shouted as the music rang out. Some jeered and others were seen making thumbs-down gestures. Iranian state television cut away from its live broadcast of the match as the players lined up before the game for the playing of the national anthem. Team Melli have found themselves caught up in politics in the World Cup run-up, with anticipation over whether they would use soccer’s showpiece event as a platform to get behind the protesters.

However, Queiroz wasn’t pleased with the jeering from the stands, telling reporters afterwards, “We need to be in the game. With all of the problems the players are dealing with, it’s very difficult for them to concentrate. I’m sure that this defeat will make them come back stronger, and more focused on football. That is all that matters, football. We have come here to play but that’s not the only thing we have to deal with. To be clear, we don’t need fans who only support the team when it wins, they would be better off staying at home”.

Queiroz déjà-vu with Colombia

Carlos Queiroz’s Iran were outclassed from the first minute of play and only resisted 34 minutes before Bellingham broke the deadlock with a powerful header. But it wasn’t the first time one of his sides shipped six goals. On 17 November 2020, in the fourth match of the South American World Cup qualifiers, his Colombia side was beaten 6-1 by Ecuador – their worst defeat in qualifying in 43 years. It came on the back of a 0-3 defeat to Uruguay in Barranquilla. Queiroz was sacked a couple of weeks later and after spending a few months out of work, took the Egypt coaching job in September 2021. His side showed promise but failed to achieve their goals: winning the African Cup or qualifying for the World Cup and in April 2022 he was fired.

Queiroz, who has only been in the Iran post for for a couple of months, will be hoping his side recovers for their second outing, against Wales on Friday. The England defeat, he says, will soon be behind them: “It wasn’t a defeat, it was a good training lesson for us, we have learned that we need to be better prepared for the next games. Beating England was always going to be a tall order for us, we are hoping to get positive results against Wales and the United States”.

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