AFC - The future trajectory of women’s football in the Islamic Republic of Iran depends on the country’s do-or-die match against Vietnam, according to national team captain Koueistan Khosravi.
Speaking exclusively to the the-AFC.com, Khosravi explained that the match against Group D’s host nation represents much more than just three points for her team.
“Sunday's game is historically important for us,” emphasised the cultured defender.
“Depending on how we perform, everything will either move forward or go backwards.”
Iran came into the qualifiers without a FIFA ranking due to a prolonged absence from international football, and got off to a nightmare start, conceding a goal just four minutes into their first match before eventually losing 2-0 to Myanmar.
But Maryam Azmoun’s side recovered well to beat Singapore 6-0, with their technical proficiency and flair winning them admirers from Hanoi to Tehran, something that will continue with a win against Vietnam, according to Khosravi.
“People are already very excited about our women’s football team getting back on the field, and with a win on Sunday the support we have been getting will get stronger and we’ll get stronger sponsors,” said the 30-year-old.
“That’s why Sunday’s game is so crucial for us. What happens next will depend on whether we go back as winners or losers.”
While the importance of the match is clear, Iran’s opponents will be in no mood for charity, with Vietnam beginning the tournament in ruthless fashion thanks to an 11-0 win against Syria, before a team comprised largely of squad players put eight more past Singapore.
But while Mai Duc Chung’s outfit are considered warm favourites for the fixture, Khosravi says her team is full of belief that they can pull off the upset of the tournament by beating Vietnam on home soil.
“Every team in the world has strengths and weaknesses,” said the inspirational skipper.
“We’ve been analysing everything about them. We’ve got very good coaches who have been helping us to understand them. Hopefully we can put them under pressure and hit them where it hurts.”
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