Iran not easy World Cup opponents: Jahanbakhsh
Iran are drawn in Group B with England, USA and Wales.
“It’s a very, very tough group. Together with England, it’s one of the best generations the country has ever had – they can field three very strong teams at the same time. The likes of Harry Kane have so much quality. I also like watching the other players in my position like Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho,” Jahanbakhsh said in an interview with the Daily Star.
He is no stranger to carrying high hopes for a nation that has never reached the knockout stages of the tournament, having captained Iran in the 1-0 loss to Spain in 2018 at the tournament. 25 years old. And despite wearing the armband throughout Iran’s World Cup qualifying run, the midfielder still has to pinch himself whenever he coaches his teammates.
“It’s just amazing. It’s something I dreamed of when I was a kid. Whenever I get the chance to wear the captain’s armband, I do it with all my heart because I know how much football means to people. We know how passionate people are with us. And if you’re the one leading a team representing 85 million people in games, that’s just a very proud feeling,” he added.
Croatian head coach Dragan Skocic guided Team Melli to near-flawless qualification in Qatar, but a 2-1 friendly loss to Algeria in June and a lackluster training camp in the scorching heat of Doha reported a divided dressing room.
Skocic’s future is now up in the air as the Iranian Football Federation scramble for a replacement with only one training camp remaining ahead of the World Cup final. But Jahanbakhsh remains focused on the pitch as he insists the players are eager to prove themselves once more.
“We have shown in the last two World Cups that we are not an easy opponent,” explained Jahanbakhsh. “We saw the reaction – everyone was talking about Iran as a national team. It’s because we worked hard and put that responsibility on our shoulders, it was amazing.
“We didn’t make it to the next round, but the way people reacted…we’re going to do our best to make our nation proud. That’s all we can do, make the most of it and work hard because it’s a very difficult group,” he concluded.