It took some time for Iran’s elimination in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup to sink in.

I felt real sadness, there is no doubt about that. But it goes without saying that defeat is a part of sport. It's not possible to live solely through wins. We must also experience defeat.

Iran were beaten by a team (Japan) with a very good strategy as well as their famous discipline, and they were aided by the mistakes from Iran’s players. Although the expectations placed on Iran were huge, we have to remember that there are other great teams in the Asian Cup competition, and Japan is one of them.

Japan have a lot of quality and were extremely well organised. Their marking was superb throughout the game. They also had an offensive strategy for Iran, in which they were very successful.

Elimination from a prestigious competition such as the Asian Cup is hard to take, as the tournament only takes place every four years. All players share the sadness, but we, the fans, deal with it in different ways, and this heavy defeat makes the situation tougher for Team Melli.

It is difficult to pick out a single Iranian player who played better than the rest. They did not perform as they expected to, and missed some opportunities which could have led to a different result.

With the easy game schedule Iran had earlier in this tournament, even without a crystal ball, it was simple to predict the presence of Team Melli in the semi-final. Beating Yemen, Vietnam, Oman, and China is the very least an Iranian person would expect. 

After the defeat against Japan, it was appropriate for head coach Carlos Queiroz to step down. His work with Iran has gone on for almost eight years during which the positives have definitely outweighed the negatives, especially in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, I believe Queiroz has nothing left to offer.

What can Iran do going forward? We must analyse the mistakes we made in the defeat and work on solutions to them; appoint a professional head coach as soon as possible, now that Queiroz has stepped down; and create an organised plan of how to strengthen the foundations of the football system in Iran.

As a passionate football fan, I believe it is always a good idea to think of positives as well. We have to keep in mind what was good about our performances.

We have to keep our heads up. We have to try to improve because football is the same as life. Whether on or off the pitch, we should always look to improve. The future of the team cannot be defined through one solitary defeat.

Iran's dream title of over 40 years has been denied by Japan, reminding me of a quote by Johan Cryuff: “Football is a game of mistakes, whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins!”

Categories: Opinion | Asia

iran, 2019 asian cup, carlos queiroz, team melli

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