Victimisation: Carlos Queiroz claims Iran’s young footballers are being victimised

After guiding his team to a 2-0 win over Bahrain at the Asian Cup on Sunday, the Portuguese launched an impassioned defence of his attempts to regenerate the national team in testing circumstances.

He underlined the impact that financial sanctions are having on the country’s football landscape and addressed the issue of players who were overlooked for the tournament in Australia, and those who missed out through injury.

The former Real Madrid coach, who took the Iran job in 2011, said: “We lost a couple of players, if they’re not here, we need to make decisions with the players we trust and believe in and who are ready to serve the national team.

“Despite the difficulties and problems we’ve faced, it’s my duty to recognise who should play for the national team. When I arrived in Iran we had 12 or 14 players ready to play for the national team.

“One with 90 caps and the second player with zero caps. Things have changed after four years. We have started to prepare some new options who will be the future of the Iranian national team.”

Queiroz has reportedly had to battle against a lack of financial support from the Iranian government, while the withholding of World Cup appearance money by FIFA – a result of international sanctions against the country in general – has not helped ease the economic constraints on the Iranian Football Association (FFIRI).

According to comments from the head of the FFIRI, Ali Kafashian, FIFA president Sepp Blatter last month promised to try to secure the release of up to US$8million in prize money owed to the country after their appearance at Brazil 2014.

“In order to change and really prepare the future of the Iranian national team I think it’s time we got the all-clear from directors and the people that can help,” Queiroz said.

“Iran cannot progress and it’s not fair for sport people, football players. They are victimised by the limitations of the sanctions. Without support they cannot progress, they cannot learn.

“For those that always talk about fair play – there’s nothing about fair play. They deserve the same opportunity as all other players. Without the money being withheld by FIFA and AFC, we just cannot move.

“So to do what we’ve been doing with the kids, the new players, I feel very proud of that and the fans should feel proud too.”

Ashkan Dejagah was more keen to focus on the positives of a victory secured by goals from Ehsan Hajsafi and Masoud Shojaei, with the Al-Arabi winger having enjoyed the raucous atmosphere in Melbourne.

“It was unbelievable. The Iranian supporters, they are crazy,” he said.

“It was amazing, it was like Tehran. Not same like Azadi but similar.”

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