Preview: Iran faces Portuguese hurdle

Mazino Dickson

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Iran is on the verge of history – a maiden second round appearance at the World Cup.

All they need to do is beat Portugal in their last group match in Saransk on Monday.

Earlier Iran beat Morocco 1-0 in their first match; a result that shocked many pundits because the Iranians defended for 90 minutes and won via a bizarre own goal.

But having gone down to an early second half goal against Spain in their second game, Iran produced an attacking display that was pleasing in the eyes of neutrals – despite having a goal ruled out for offside.

Now the die is cast.

Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz knows all about Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo.

He coached A Selecção das Quinas at the 2010 World Cup, and should bring his inner knowledge to win the match for Iran’s football team known as “Melli.”

So far the Iranians have shown a very good defensive approach that can stifle any team, and can cause problems against other teams when necessary.

Portugal’s 2018 World Cup story has simply been about Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 33 year old has found the back of the net four times, including a never-to-be-forgotten hat trick against Spain.

This would be the second time both teams would meet in the World Cup; in 2006 World Cup held in Germany Portugal beat Iran 2-0 with Ronaldo scoring the winner via a penalty.

That result spelt the end of the road for Iran; will lightening strike twice?

Or will Iran turn the form book and knock-out Ronaldo and company?