Iran coach Queiroz praises Team India

"I was very much surprised by India’s display. There has been a vast improvement in their performance over the last few months."

India will take on Turkemenistan in its final FIFA World Cup qualifier on March 29 in Kochi.   -  AIFF

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz showered praise on a young Indian team's performance despite the score-line reading 4-0 at the Azadi Stadium here in Tehran in a FIFA World Cup qualifier.

“I was very much surprised by India’s display. There has been a vast improvement in their performance over the last few months,” he said after the match.

Fielding a depleted side without four regular starters including talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri, a young Indian side had all odds against it. On the field, it played its heart out with a fantastic work rate, conceded two through penalties and was forced to make two substitutions in the first half itself.

Two penalties converted by Iran captain Ehsan Haji (33rd and 66th minute) and one goal each from Sardar Azmoun (61st) and Alireza Jahan (78th) settled the game for the host.

India coach Stephen Constantine admitted it was a “very difficult” game. “They controlled the game. It was a very difficult game for us even before it kicked-off. In the first half, we conceded from a penalty and had two players coming out through injury. It made it all the more difficult for us,” he said.

“We are a very young side. One boy made his international debut today and he will never forget the fact that he played his first international match at the Azadi Stadium against Iran” Constantine said, referring to Udanta Singh who became the 23rd Player in the last one year to make his international debut under the coach.

“We tried to contain Iran and paid the price for some mistakes. We were short in some areas and paid the price for that. Iran are one of the best teams in Asia and playing at the Azadi Stadium has its own challenges.”

Watching from the stands, it was easy to pick Pronay Halder as one of the outstanding performers, playing perhaps his best ever game in his career so far. He was ready to fight, lead, willing to stay in the zone, not indulging in unnecessary tackles that has been his undoing so far and winning almost every one on one battle.