Bouhaddouz own goal hands Iran late victory over Morocco

Bouhaddouz own goal hands Iran late victory over Morocco

Eight years after they became the most reviled musical instruments ever to be heard at an organized sporting event, the infamous and unmistakable sound of the vuvuzela has, once again, made a comeback at the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup.

Their Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz was thrown in the air by his team and more than just a reflection of joy it was acknowledgment that the tactician's approach of diligent defending in numbers and a tight shape in midfield had paid off. "They just want to express themselves and play football".

It was Iran's second win in 13 matches at the World Cup, and Asia's first since the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Greece and Kosovo cancelled scheduled friendlies in Istanbul during Iran's pre-tournament preparations and Queiroz had criticised Nike's decision to stop supplying boots just before the tournament started.

Hervé Renard is in charge of his fourth African team but this will be his first experience of the World Cup.

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Iran are without suspended defensive midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi. El Kaabi showed throughout the game he could dribble through the Iranian defence and caused problems for them with his strength and pace with the ball at his feet. The man to watch is forward Sardar Azmoun, labelled "the Iranian Messi" due to his strike rate of 23 goals in 33 games for the national team.

Iran have undergone something of a facelift in the last four years.

With Group B favourites Portugal and Spain clashing, Iran have now given themselves hope of advancing to the last 16 while Morocco's World Cup dream is in ruins. They only conceded one goal in eight games in qualifying - in a second-round win over Equatorial Guinea. To start with, Benatia will be hoping to start with a win over Iran and kickstart Morocco's campaign in Russian Federation. But sometimes you have to take one for the team. Iran, despite their tremendous efforts during their qualifying campaign, have had their ups and downs so far, and would not be able to make the grade against Morocco.

Additionally, Morocco will be boosted by the perception they carry at the World Cup as one of the dark horses and will try to prove a point.

Iran would likely secure a first ever place in the knockout stage at a World Cup by beating Spain on Wednesday, though Queiroz is expected to play for a draw in Kazan.

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