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Skocic: Tough but IR Iran still have a good chance


Tehran: Head coach Dragan Skokic has conceded that Islamic Republic of Iran face a tough task but is adamant that Team Melli will fight till the end in the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Iran are seeking a third consecutive appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals but back to back defeats to Bahrain and Iraq in Group C of the Asian Qualifiers left the Central Asian side third in the standings, although they have a match in hand.

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“I know that the work ahead of us will be difficult, but our goal is clear," said Skokic in an interview with Football Bartar, an Iranian football programme.

"However, I am sure we have the potential to book a place at the 2022 World Cup. We want to make the Iranian people happy."

Iran opened their Asian Qualifiers campaign with wins over Hong Kong (2-0) and Cambodia (14-0) but came unstuck against Bahrain (1-0) and Iraq (2-1) to leave their hopes of a sixth appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals hanging by a thread.

Iran are five points behing group leaders Iraq - who are on 11 points - with Bahrain having collected nine from their five matches.

However, three of Iran's remaining four matches are at home - including against Iraq and Bahrain - and they are still in with a chance of advancing to the third round of the Qualifiers.

“We have a short time to prepare for the matches,” Skocic said. “We will invite the players who are well-prepared and the door is open for all players.

"We will monitor the league (which resumes on Wednesday) and the best players have the chance to be called up to the national team. It doesn't matter which team or league the players are playing in,” Skocic concluded.

The remaining matches, which were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been scheduled for October 8 and 13 and November 12 and 17.

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