DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand is likely out after a gruesome injury in Iran’s World Cup opener, backup…
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand is likely out after a gruesome injury in Iran’s World Cup opener, while Hosseini Hosseini’s backup has a tall task against Wales and star Gareth Bale.
Iran, bottom of Group B after a 6-2 defeat by England, face Wales on Friday at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Hosseini already faced tough opposition in Qatar when Beiranwand was stretchered off in the first half of Monday’s opener before England opened the scoring.
Iran’s coaching staff allowed Beiranvand to continue playing after colliding with a teammate, but he later collapsed on the field and was taken to a local hospital.
Iran would not comment on his status, other than to say he had a nose injury, returned to the team and underwent a medical.
The injury drew attention to FIFA’s concussion protocol. If Beiranvand is found to have suffered a concussion, he will be ruled out under FIFA’s return-to-play rules.
Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz was pragmatic after the defeat.
“We win or we learn. We had the honor to learn a lot with the English team,” he said. “And in conclusion I will say that now we are much better prepared for the game against Wales.”
Bale converted an 82nd-minute penalty to earn Wales a 1-1 draw with the United States in the first leg.
The draw left Wales with a point in their first World Cup match since 1958 and a shot at the knockout rounds within reach. Bale, who played for Major League Soccer side LAFC last season, has now scored 41 goals in 109 international appearances.
Bale has struggled with injuries and fitness for much of the year, but scored a header for LAFC in the MLS Cup title earlier this month. LAFC won in a shootout after a 3-3 tie with Philadelphia.
He is not Wales’ only threat. Bournemouth striker Kiefer Moore could make his first World Cup start. Moore was a second-half substitute against the United States and made an immediate impression.
“He made a massive difference to us,” Wales head coach Rob Page said.
Iran, who have qualified for the last two World Cups, have never advanced to the knockout rounds. And it doesn’t look like the team will last this year.
Iran’s trip to Qatar was marred by unrest in the country. The country, across the Persian Gulf from Qatar, has been rocked by protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died during police custody for allegedly violating the country’s mandatory dress code for women.
Activists have called for Iran to be excluded from the World Cup before it begins. At the beginning of the action, Iranians did not sing the national anthem as a sign of solidarity with the demonstrators.
Hardline Iranian media tried to blame England’s loss on riots. The Kayhan daily said Iran’s rout came after “weeks of unfair and unprecedented psychological warfare against the team … by traitors at home and abroad.”
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