'Dream come true' as Iran arrive first

Iran's football coach Carlos Queiroz (right), officials and footballers arriving at Moscow's Vnukovo airport on Tuesday.
Iran's football coach Carlos Queiroz (right), officials and footballers arriving at Moscow's Vnukovo airport on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MOSCOW • Iran coach Carlos Queiroz has said it was a "dream come true" to set foot in Russia after his men became the first team yesterday to arrive for the World Cup Finals starting next week.

Iran, ranked 36th by Fifa, have been drawn in Group B alongside former World Cup winners Spain, reigning European champions Portugal and Morocco.

"Being in Russia is a dream come true for Iranian football," Queiroz said. "We have achieved this through hard work and sacrifices, which only heightens how honoured and privileged we feel to be here."

The three-time Asian Cup winners easily qualified for their second successive World Cup, going unbeaten in 18 matches over two rounds, winning their groups both times. This will be their fifth appearance at the Finals.

"The Iranian national team will relish rubbing shoulders with the best teams and being part of this fantastic World Cup family," the Portuguese coach added.

"We arrive raring to keep this dream going for as long as possible and we look forward to playing our part in making this the best World Cup ever."

However, Iran are long shots to make their first knockout stage of a World Cup. European bookmakers put their odds of winning the whole tournament at 500-1.

Queiroz's men will play a friendly against Lithuania in Moscow tomorrow, before kicking off their campaign against Morocco at St Petersburg Stadium on June 15.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2018, with the headline ''Dream come true' as Iran arrive first'. Print Edition | Subscribe