Queiroz and Iran drawing strength from Nike row

From cancelled friendlies to rows with Nike, Iran's preparations for its World Cup opener against Morocco have been unconventional.

Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz   -  Getty Images

Carlos Queiroz insist complications during preparation can inspire Iran when it faces Morocco in its World Cup opener on Friday.

A pre-tournament friendly against Greece in Turkey was shelved due to political tensions between the European nation and its neighbours, while late replacements Kosovo also pulled the plug.

Geopolitical turbulence has rarely been too far from Queiroz's side of late, with the former Real Madrid boss criticising Nike this week after the US sportswear giant refused to supply boots to his players on account of trade sanctions.


Over the course of seven years at the helm, which took in qualification for Brazil 2014, Alex Ferguson's former assistant at Manchester United has chosen to harness such troubles as motivation for his underdogs.

"We do not allow these problems to become justifications or excuses," he told a pre-match news conference at Krestovsky Stadium.

"We have been using all these situations as an opportunity to develop and an inspiration to make our players stronger and full of will."

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"We are sure that we have to be a family and keep united. Iranian players are full of passion for football. It's a people who love football. It is not fake. We are never using any justifications or apologies here."

"We are using all of the hurdles as a source of inspiration and creativity. It is motivation to be more efficient and more competent to win the games."

Sacking your head coach 48 hours before your first match might just trump any of the Iran team's predicaments when it comes to World Cup woes.

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Queiroz was keen not to be drawn on the Spain and Julen Lopetegui saga that has dominated the build-up in Group B, where he maintains his team are the outsiders.

"As a matter of principle, it is disrespectful from our side if I shift my words at this point to Spain when I have an opponent that is Morocco," he explained.

"As everybody knows they are one of the favourites to move to the second round, side by side with Portugal and Spain. We admit the favouritism of Morocco, Spain and Portugal due to history, World Cup preparation, experience, maturity and players in best teams in Europe."

"We concede that favouritism, but we don't tolerate anybody telling us that we are not capable of winning. Nobody can undermine our expectations and hopes. We are here to compete with the favourites and, at the end, we hope the gods of football speak higher."

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