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Skocic proud of IR Iran, Asian Qualifiers loss disappoints Bahrain's Sousa

Riffa: Islamic Republic of Iran head coach Dragan Skocic praised his side’s resolve and performance in the 3-0 win over Bahrain in Group C of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Monday. 

After a relatively even first half, Iran were dominant in the second period with Sardar Azmoun scoring twice in eight minutes, before Mehdi Taremi sealed the win with a strike of his own.

Skocic was ecstatic with the result, which pushed the Central Asians up to second place on 12 points in the standings, ahead of Bahrain on goal difference. Leaders Iraq have 14 points.

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“First of all, I want to congratulate my team for the valuable win against Bahrain. We started the campaign with just six points but have earned two important wins against Hong Kong and Bahrain,” Skocic said.

“The win doesn't surprise us because we entered the match with the aim of getting three points."

Skocic revealed that he had made changes to Iran's style of play which produced the important win but expressed concern that Vahid Amiri is facing the possibility of being sidelined for their remaining two fixtures.

“We tried to avoid any defensive mistakes that could have cost us a lot and put an end to our chances. Congratulations to the players once again. The only negative point from this game was losing one of our best players, Vahid Amiri, and we will probably have a problem with his absence for the coming matches."

“The result was based on the tactics we chose, and I’m proud of this victory. I have said before that the Bahraini team is a respectable team, and we prepared thoroughly for the match.

“Our style of play was completely different from the match against Hong Kong. We were ready for this game, and right now I want to enjoy this historic victory. We will start thinking about Cambodia on Tuesday,” Skocic added.

Iran face a must-win match against Cambodia on Friday, before playing Iraq in their final fixture four days later.

Bahrain head coach Helio Sousa didn't hide his disappointment, saying: “If there is someone who should be disappointed, it would be me.

“We have built great confidence in our team and everyone believed in us to achieve victory but we faced a difficult team.

“A draw would have been a better result for us rather than the defeat, of course. Now, we must reach 15 points but our chances are slim because Iraq and Iran have two matches remaining.”

Sousa said the difference between the two sides was that Iran had the likes of Azmoun and Taremi.

“The strength of Iran was their ability to launch attacks from the middle and we should have not given them space to do what they want,” said the Portuguese coach.

“Our opponents had good quality players, including the best player in the Russian Premier League while they also have several players who play in top teams around Europe.

“We made good substitutions but the second goal that we conceded affected us a lot. We were hoping to have a better result but we failed to do so although we played with a lot of bravery.”

Photos: AFC, FFIRI

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