TEHRAN – Iran overcame the UAE but the team didn’t play as good as they played against Iraq. Nevertheless, it is increasingly clear that Dragan Skocic has changed the spirit of this side.
Iran edged the UAE 1-0 in Group A of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers and cemented their place at top of the group with nine points out of three matches.
The Croatian coach, Skocic, took the helm of the national team after the disappointment of the first leg of World Cup qualifiers Round 2 under former coach Mark Wilmots.
Before Wilmots, Iran also experienced failure with the Portuguese Carlos Queiroz at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup when the team were stunned by a 3-0 loss against Japan in the semifinals.
Queiroz’s long reign had ended, and Wilmots just worsened the situation for Iran.
Some Iranian football fans are still trying to figure out what to think of this new Iran national team.
With the victory against the UAE on Thursday, Dragan Skocic set a new record of 10 consecutive wins in all competitions.
The Skocic era is picking up speed. Mehdi Taremi’s winner against the UAE led to a hard-earned victory for Iran. Still, the important point was that Iran did win despite losing a penalty, and their manner of victory was indicative of the changes that Skocic has already instilled.
When Skocic explains his game model, he tends to summarize it in three words: attack, pressure, and ambition. Of these three items, the Croatian coach points to the first as the most fundamental of all.
Skocic’s talk is not without purpose or effect, and his players do look like they really understand what is expected from them.
Iran’s ruthless ability to continually win the games and change the demanding situations to their favor is a critical element of the Skocic era.
On a night when Sardar Azmoun endured rather than enjoyed in Iranian jersey, with missing a penalty, Iran became a step closer to the World Cup.
Before Tuesday’s thrilling match against Korea, the Iranian football fans can sense something special in the air around the Iran national team camp.
We witness a substantial transformation of Iran and the feeling that the ‘Persian Leopards’ are finally going to fulfill their potential. It reflects the fact that Skocic has generally been a successful manager, even though there has been a suspicion, by some of his critics, that under someone else, Iran could play better. But, with 10 wins out of 10 games, he has proved that nobody could win more and win better than him!