World Cup quiet achievers Iran and Nigeria keen to change perceptions

The football coaches from the national teams of Iran and Nigeria say the World Cup is an opportunity for their countries to change perceptions.

In late November 1997 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground Australian football suffered one of its most disastrous moments.

The Socceroos appeared on their way to the World Cup in France as they lead Iran 2-0 in a World Cup playoff.

But two goals in quick succession knocked the Australians out and the ensuing Iranian celebration in front of a packed MCG has been forever etched in the Asian country’s football folklore.

It is this spirit that Iran will call on when they take to the field for their fourth World Cup appearance at Brazil 2014.

“I will look to face the group stage with only one thing in mind, we're going to work hard, we are going to try and qualify the team for the second round,” said Iran coach Carlos Queiroz.

It won’t be easy however, with the Iranians drawn alongside Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria in Group F.

For a country that is often seen as an international pariah, the world football stage is also a chance to change perceptions.

“The most important thing is the legacy that Iran must take from this World Cup put the shirt in a better place,” said Queiroz.

One of their opponents in Brazil, Nigeria, will be looking to be tournament’s entertainers.

The Super Eagles burst onto the scene in 1994, qualifying for the last 16 while playing some of the exciting football of USA 94.

The Nigerians will be hoping to emulate that side in Brazil.

“I love offensive football, because people that comes out to the stadium they come to enjoy their money and see good football,” said Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi.

While Nigeria and Iran may not be among the favourites at Brazil 2014, they do have the potential to be the entertainers of this World Cup.

Source: SBS