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Iran expert Cheraghpour talks about COVID-19 impacts on football

Jalal Cheraghpour

Tehran Times - Iran football expert, Jalal Cheraghpour, has said that carelessness toward coronavirus outbreak and its effects on the sports, especially football, will make it impossible to hold the next season of the Iran Professional League (IPL).

In an exclusive interview with Tehran Times, the former coach of Iran national team said: “The outbreak of coronavirus is a global phenomenon and it’s not just about one or more specific countries. No one can predict what will happen in the future because it is a new pandemic and of course, a very different one.”

"There is a kind of fear among all people, including athletes about this disease. The football players may not be fully fit physically, emotionally, and mentally as they were before, but it can happen for all of the players and not some of them," Cheraghpour added.

The former coach of the Iranian clubs such as Esteghlal Ahvaz and Niroye Zamini believes that people should get used to living, exercising, and competing alongside the coronavirus and the resulting fear.

“Football will be different from before. Without spectators, it is like friendly games rather than official matches. But we should get used to this kind of football.”

Cheraghpour also talked about the resumption of the IPL which is scheduled to resume on June 24 despite some clubs are planning to lobby against the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI)’s attempts to restart the league.

“We still are in the first phase of the pandemic coronavirus and it’s not over yet. According to the officials, there are possibilities of the second Covid-19 wave to occur in the country. So, it is better to continue football sooner rather than later. Some teams are opposing the resumption of the games because of the costs they have to pay and some are making up other excuses to close the league.

“The most important point is that we have to complete the competitions of this season and be aware that we may lose the next season of the league with the slightest carelessness,” he said.

Speaking about Iran national team and their new head coach, Dragan Skocic, Cheraghpour said: “Iran has played at a high level for many years with Carlos Queiroz at the helm. Skocic has worked in Iranian football for many years and is familiar with the general atmosphere of our football. However, he has nothing new to offer to our national team.”

After Queiroz’s departure, the FFIRI turned to Marc Wilmots, but after some disappointing results in the current round of Asian qualifiers for Qatar 2022, the Belgian was replaced by Skocic.

“Skocic is a manager of the Eastern European football and there is nothing new that he wants to give our football comparing what Queiroz has done in the Iranian national team. This is Skocic’s first time in charge of a national team,” Cheraghpour added.

“I hope that he will succeed with the Iranian national team, although even after passing the AFC’s second qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, our very hard work will be in the third round where the best teams of Asia will compete in two groups of six teams and just top two teams of each group will qualify for the World Cup. Honestly speaking, it Is so difficult for us to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, considering the current situation of the national team,” he concluded.

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