Beiranvand reveals inspiration behind penalty heroics
Abu Dhabi: Islamic Republic of Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand has revealed that striker Sardar Azmoun’s advice and a steely determination not to let his country down were behind his remarkable penalty save in Sunday’s Round of 16 win over Oman at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
After Azmoun had been caught on camera suggesting which way Beiranvand should dive, the Persepolis custodian’s outstretched right-hand repelled Ahmed Al Mahaijri’s spot-kick in the opening moments of the game which saw Team Melli go through to the quarter-finals.
Having already saved a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo at last year’s FIFA World Cup, Beiranvand’s heroics in the United Arab Emirates only added to his burgeoning reputation, with the 26-year-old saying that his primary aim when facing Al Mahaijri was not to let his country down.
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“I was only thinking about the people of Iran,” he declared.
“I really wanted to make them happy, because when you get to this stage, everyone watches the game. It’s just the one game, if you lose it, you’re eliminated.
"I knew people would be praying, and all I could do was focus. Thankfully, I was able to help my team, and make my people happy.
“Sardar told me [which way to go]. Although I had already made up my mind prior to that. I had decided and then Sardar told me, so I thought it had to mean something.”
The 2-0 victory saw Iran maintain their perfect record at the tournament and register a fourth successive clean sheet in the process, two remarkable statistics which, according to Beiranvand, are inextricably linked.
“The penalty happened very early on, but thankfully it wasn’t converted so we continued without conceding. We’re a team that is guaranteed to win if we don’t concede,” he said.
“It’s one of the characteristics of Team Melli, don’t concede and we will go no and win the game, it has been like this so far.”
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