US have clear task against Iran: Win or go home
DOHA, Qatar (AP):
The task is clear for the United States: beat Iran in a politically charged World Cup match or go home.
“We have to get out of our group by all means,” US captain Tyler Adams said yesterday. “It would feel like a success for us when we make it out of the group and then continue on in the tournament.”
A draw or a loss tonight would eliminate the Americans, who tied Wales 1-1 and England 0-0. England lead Group B with four points, followed by Iran with three, the US with two and Wales with one.
During unusual pre-match news conferences, Adams was asked to defend the US’s treatment of black people and chastised for pronouncing the opponent “Eye-ran” instead of “E-ran.” American coach Gregg Berhalter was questioned about US immigration and Naval policy and apologised for the US Soccer Federation’s (USSF) decision to strip the emblem of the Islamic Republic from Iran’s flag on social media.
The USSF’s flag decision was meant to support women protesters in Iran.
“We had no idea about what US Soccer put out,” Berhalter said. “All we can do on our behalf is apologise on behalf of the players and the staff.”
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz was queried about Sunday’s flag flap, which prompted the governing body of Iranian football to demand FIFA expel the US from the tournament. He said he did not intend to use the controversy as motivation.
“If after 42 years in this game as a coach I still believe that I could win games with those mental games, I think I did not learn nothing about the game,” he said.
“We have solidarity with the humanitarian causes all over the world, whatever they are or who they are,” he added. “If you talk about human rights, racism, kids that die in schools with shootings, we have solidarity to all those causes, but here our mission is bring the smiles for the people at least for 90 minutes.”
Adams, who is black and grew up in a white family, was told by a reporter from Iran’s Press TV about the pronunciation of Iran, then asked: “Are you OK to be representing a country that has so much discrimination against black people?”
“My apologies on the mispronunciation of your country,” Adams responded. “That being said, there’s discrimination everywhere you go. One thing that I’ve learned, especially from living abroad in the past years and having to fit in different cultures and kind of assimilating to different cultures, is that in the US we’re continuing to make progress every single day.”
Iran rebounded from a 6-2 opening match loss to England with a 2-0 upset of Wales, putting the team in position to advance for the first time in six World Cups.