“I expect a difficult game because it will be one of the last chances for Iran to try to get through to the next round,” the Portuguese captain told a news conference. “Everyone knows that if they get a negative result they will be out.
“In contrast, if we win we will qualify for the next round. It is like a final for both teams,” he said of Saturday’s Group D clash in Frankfurt.
Iran lost 3-1 to Mexico in their first Group D game. Portugal beat Angola 1-0 in their opener.
As Portugal’s oldest and most-capped player, Figo said he had nothing to prove. The 33-year-old carved open Angola’s defence and set up Pauleta’s goal, putting paid to pre-tournament doubts that he was past his best.
“I don’t have to prove my abilities to anyone as a player,” he said. “It will not be at the end of my career that I start proving what I can do. I am here to do my best in a top competition.”
Nor did he feel any extra pressure as captain.
“Participation in the World Cup and the national team is already a big responsibility. Being captain, or hearing people say I should have more influence is not part of it,” he said.
“I am here to work for my country … and make sure we get as far as we can,” he added.
He said the side were training hard and not dwelling on the side’s last World Cup in 2002 when they failed to make it past the group phase.
“We are thinking only in terms of the present, only about this World Cup,” he said.