Ivankovic seemed very calm and ready for what was around the corner by showing how confident he was in his team.
In the time span of the past five years there has been a constant in Asiaâ€™s football scene on the coaching level and thatâ€™s Branko Ivankovic. He has watched coaches come and go in other Asian nations as he continued to build his team. With strong showings in the Asian Games and Asian Cup, Ivankovic has continuously brought the Iranian team positive results. They may not have been the best matches to watch but as he noted tonight, â€œresults are what counts; Iran is not Brazil, Argentina or Holland, Iran is Iran and Iran has good players who will bring it good results.â€
Despite the positive results, Ivankovic has been a favorite target in the media. â€œAs a coach the most important thing is to have the respect of my players. The media has written a lot of things that are not true which have upset not only me but my players. Instead of helping the Iranian national team they (tabloid media) are hurting the team. Support for the team should not five days before our first match; it should be all the time.â€
The Croat has also been able to introduce new players to the team without sacrificing team results. â€œYoung players are the key to any team and I am proud to have overseen the introduction of many new players. It is important to every team to have a future and Iran has a very bright one.â€
The introduction of players such as Hossein Kaabi at a very young age has helped his growth as a player. One of the major faults in Iranian football is the lack of infrastructure which needs to dramatically change. Youth in Iran need to have more organized and controlled trainings so that they can prove their skills to a future coach. This yearâ€™s squad contains multiple players who will be able to contribute in the future to Iranâ€™s national team.
Mexico, a critical match
You never know what can happen on the pitch in 90 minutes. Some end as expected and others come as a shock. Ecuadorâ€™s 2-0 win over Poland is a prime example of an underachiever playing above its potential. For Iran to achieve a positive result it needs to play above its potential and have luck on its side. A Mexican side dedicating the match to their starting keeper Oswaldo Sanchez will look for a win but Ivankovic believes Iran can control the match.
His lineup for tomorrows match will include Mirzapour in goal, Kaabi, Golmohammadi, Rezai and Nosrati in the back, Nekounam and Teymourian (in for an injured Zandi) as the two defensive midfielders, Mahdavikia and Hashemian on the wings with Karimi in the middle. Ali Daei will start as the loan forward forming a 4-2-3-1 formation.
â€œThe key to the match is teamwork and the leadership of the older players such as Daei, Karimi, Hashemian and Mahdavikia; they will make choices that can change the way we play.â€
Ivankovic believes that, â€œthe boyâ€™s will do everything they can to make the people of Iran happy.â€ He will put forth one of the strongest teams Iran has had against Mexico and with an eerie calm in his voice assured us that, â€œwe will do fine.â€