BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Iran can still reach the second round of the World Cup by beating already relegated Bosnia-Herzegovina on Wednesday, but it needs to do what it hasn't done so far in the tournament — score goals.
Iran has faced criticism for its dour defensive tactics after a 0-0 draw against Nigeria in their Group F opener. The Iranians also spent much of their game against Argentina on Saturday packing the defense, but created several chances on counterattacks and nearly caused a major upset before allowing a late winner by Lionel Messi.
Against Bosnia at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Iran coach Carlos Queiroz knows they have to forget about that disappointment and make sure their finishing is sharper.
"My major concern is to keep players focused," said Queiroz, who is leaving his post after the World Cup because of lack of financial support from the Iranian government. "And, they'll need to convert those chances."
Iran must win to have a chance to go through, while Nigeria only needs a point against Argentina in a game that's played at the same time. The need for a win means Queiroz will likely start with an offensive lineup on Wednesday, adding another striker to Reza Ghoochannejhad.
If Iran wins and Nigeria loses, they would both finish with four points and the second-place finisher would be decided by goal difference. Because of the previous results, though, there is a small chance that a lottery would have to decide who finishes second.
If Iran wins 1-0 and Nigeria loses by the same score, they would end up level on points and with the same number of goals for and against. The teams drew 0-0 in their game against each other, meaning the only remaining tiebreaker would be a drawing lots — something that has never been used to determine which team advances at a World Cup.