Despite securing World Cup spot, Iran football coach eager to beat South Korea

(IranSportsPress.com-Yonhap News Agency)- Iran football coach Carlos Queiroz said Wednesday his side will try to collect a victory against South Korea in order to maintain their undefeated and clean sheet record in the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Iran and South Korea will go head-to-head at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday. Both teams are in Group A in the final Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Queiroz said the match against South Korea is a great learning opportunity for Iran, but that doesn’t mean his side will accept a loss.

“There is only one way in football, which is to win,” Queiroz said at a press conference at the National Football Center in Paju, north of Seoul. “We have our own record and our own capabilities. We’re going to try to do our best to play good football and win the game.”

With two matches remaining, Iran have already affirmed their presence in the 2018 FIFA World Cup by clinching the top spot in the group with 20 points from six wins and two draws. They are seven points above second-place South Korea and eight points ahead of third-place Uzbekistan.

In Asia, the top two teams from Group A and B will directly advance to the World Cup in Russia, while the two third-placed teams need to go through playoff rounds to clinch a spot at the top FIFA competition.

Iran are also the only Asian team in the final round that has yet to concede a goal. In Group A, Team Melli has so far scored eight and surrendered none.

Since Queiroz took over the team in 2011, Iran have never lost to South Korea, winning their last four matches by the score of 1-0. The 64-year-old Portuguese coach, however, emphasized that past records don’t matter.

“Of course, this team is proud of those records and numbers. But we know that the past doesn’t guarantee a win tomorrow,” he said. “Tomorrow, we have a job to do and we know it’s not going to be easy.”

Queiroz, former assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, said he is aware that South Korea have scored nine goals in four matches at home. He also admitted that they have little information on the Taeguk Warriors now managed by new head coach Shin Tae-yong, who was appointed last month.

With Shin in mind, Queiroz said he expects to see a different South Korean team.

“I did study the records of the coach (Shin) with other teams,” he said. “I tried to read his approach to the game and understand his game, but the information we have is very limited.”

When asked about his team’s solid performance in the World Cup qualifying campaign, Queiroz said his players are sticking to the basics.

“We try to have a good attack to defend well and we try to defend well to make our attack easy,” he said. “We also work as a team. For whatever reason, we have yet to concede a goal, but if we do concede a goal, we won’t point finger at anybody.”

As South Korea and Uzbekistan are fighting for the remaining automatic qualification spot in the group, Queiroz said he prefers to see the best team going to the World Cup with Iran.

“It’s a matter of respect not to express my feelings and my opinions in regards to (whether) Korea would qualify or not,” he said. “I just hope the best team makes it (to the World Cup).”