Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Marc Wilmots is more than hopeful of Team Melli’s future after what he has seen in the past month.
The 50-year-old Belgian coach took over the reins from Carlos Queiroz early in June, and enjoyed a good start to his tenure as Iran beat Syria 5-0 in an international friendly, before playing to a 1-1 draw against Korea Republic less than a week later.
Tasked with ensuring Team Melli make their sixth appearance in the FIFA World Cup, Wilmots is confident his side can rise up to the challenge en route to Qatar 2022, praising numerous his players with Persepolis’ goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand and youngsters Younes Delfi and Allahyar Sayyadmanesh coming in for special mention.
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"There is a lot of talent here,” Wilmots said in an interview with Sporz.be.
“I have a goalkeeper in my team who could play at any top club in Europe. I also let an 18-year-old attacker make his debut. He had already scored twice against Germany in the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup. In the match against Syria, Allahyar Sayyadmanesh came off the bench and immediately scored a goal.
“And I am convinced that there are so many talents and we must find them. As a national coach, I like to look for different ingredients to make a delicious soup.”
Wilmots is clear on his approach of the game for Iran, which is a more aggressive and attacking style of football, emphasising that the budding players will need to grow and adapt that playstyle as they climb through the ranks.
"And the question remains: How we want to play? Of course, you can't change everything in three training sessions, but in the friendly match against Korea Republic we created 16 scoring chances. Iran were not afraid of playing attacking football.
“The younger players need to adopt the new philosophy.”
Iran, Asia’s top ranked team, will identify their opponents for Round Two of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualification in the draw on July 17.
The former Belgium boss, who was also a Red Devil international, led the team to a quarter-final finish in the UEFA Euro 2016, and hopes that he can achieve a historic feat with Team Melli.
"With the Red Devils I always thought we were going to win that tournament. Now, that is different. But you can also surprise with Iran.
“Iran have not advanced to a World Cup knockout stage so far and it will be a good challenge for me.”
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