Tehran Times - Despite being drawn to face Spain, European champions Portugal and Morocco in the 2018 World Cup group phase, Ashkan Dejagah is confident they have a chance to book a place in the knockout stage.
“We want to write our own history and book a place in the second round for the first time. And is not just a slogan. We firmly believe that we can do it because we have the potential,” says Dejagah in conversation with FUSSBALL BILD.
The former Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg expects his second World Cup tournament for Iran and the fifth overall.
But for Dejagah everything must go according to plan. The midfielder had surgery on his right knee in February and is currently in Tehran for the rehabilitation process.
Iran became the first team from Asia to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. Unbeaten in 10 games in the final group stage and conceding only twice, Carlos Queiroz has developed a well-organized, well-oiled and well-drilled machine.
The self-confidence of the players and the expectations of the fans are therefore huge.
At the last World Cup, Dejagah and Co. played a wonderful match against Argentina. The Albiceleste got outplayed by Team Melli for most of their World Cup encounter, gifting them the best chances of the match, but Lionel Messi came up absolutely massive in the end.
“And now we're even stronger, we've never had so many players who play in the European leagues and gain important experience there. Four years ago, we had to rely on a strong defensive and a counter-attacking master plan. We are still compact, but we also have a few strong talented players who are doing well on the offensive,” the Nottingham Forrest midfielder added.
Dejagah wore the captain's armband several times in the qualification round, although he had no club.
"The fact that the coach was still there for me makes me incredibly proud. I am very happy since he has trusted me. We have a very tough group in the World Cup. We do not have Portugal’s Ronaldo or Spain’s Iniesta but we will do our best to make our dream come true,” the 31-year-old concluded.
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