AFC Champions League

Curitiba: Iran coach Carlos Queiroz is approaching Team Melli's Brazil 2014 Group F opener against Nigeria in pragmatic fashion, arguing that a gung-ho, attacking approach against the African champions on Monday could be their undoing.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the match at the Arena da Baixada, which sees the three-time Asian Cup winners take on the Super Eagles for the first time since January 1998 when Iran lost 1-0 in Hong Kong, Queiroz (pictured) said:
"If you believe good football is only attacking and scoring goals, check the newspapers in Spain and ask them what they think about the result.
"You can play good football when you defend well. To defend is part of the game.
"If we need to defend, I'm telling you we are going to defend. If we need to suffer, I'm telling you, we are going to suffer."
Iran's long-suffering fans have not enjoyed a World Cup victory since their 2-1 triumph over the USA at France 1998, which interestingly was when Nigeria also last won at the finals, with the Super Eagles defeating Bulgaria 1-0 at the Parc des Princes in Paris having earlier beaten Spain 3-2 in Nantes.
"Nigeria are favourites but nobody is big enough to win all the time and nobody is small enough to lose all the time," continued Mozambique-born Queiroz, who is no stranger to African football having had a two-year spell as head coach of South Africa.
"The Nigerian team is a team full of stars, with great players playing in Europe," he said, suggesting the pressure was on them to live up to their reputations.
"Nigeria is one of the nations that is playing this World Cup with one thing on its mind, to be in the finals or the semi-finals."
Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi, meanwhile, echoed Quieroz's sentiments on the need to ensure the goals continue to flow at Brazil 2014, although in an altogether more ebullient fashion.
"For me, scoring 100 goals is not important. If we score one goal and I win my games up to the finals, I will love it, I will kiss you all over.
"I don't want to score 10 goals in one game then find I'm out in the next game, it doesn't make sense.
"Whatever comes I'll take it as long as there is progression in my team. So far in the tournament everything has been entertaining. More players in attacking positions, playing good football because the audience needs to enjoy it."


Photo: AFP

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POS PHOTO PLAYER COUNTRY TOTAL GOALS
1 ASAMOAH GYAN AL AIN (UAE) 7
2 NASSIR ALSHAMRANI AL HILAL (KSA) 6
3 VAGNER LOVE SHANDONG LUNENG FC (CHN) 5
4 MEHDI SHARIFI FOOLAD MOBARAKEH SEPAHAN (IRN) 4
5 ABDELAZIZ BARRADA AL JAZIRA (UAE) 4

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