After securing a 1-1 draw against the USA in their first Fifa World Cup match for 64 years, Wales will return to the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Friday to take on Iran.
With Gareth Bale’s late penalty earning a crucial point from their World Cup group B opener, Robert Page’s “spirited” side know that a victory over the Iranians will put them in “a strong position to reach the knockouts”, said Reuters. Iran started their group B campaign with a heavy 6-2 defeat against England.
Despite the Iran result, Page is expecting a “tough game” and he believes his side are still the underdogs to qualify from the group. “England are favourites, USA are second favourites,” he said. “But there will be a few surprises along the way. We’re just planning for a tough game on Friday and that takes us into the last game against England.”
Anything other than victory will leave Iran facing “an early exit” from Qatar 2022, said Daniel Lewis on The Analyst. However, head coach Carlos Queiroz still has faith in his players. “What I can say as a conclusion is we win or learn,” he said. “We had the privilege to learn a lot of things against England and we are much better prepared now to play against Wales.”
The two sides have only faced each other once before in men’s international football, with Wales winning 1-0 in a friendly match in 1978.
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Friday’s clash between Wales and Iran will be shown live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Coverage begins at 9.15am, with kick-off at 10am. Presenter Gabby Logan is joined in the studio by former Wales internationals Ian Rush and Ashley Williams and German World Cup winner Jürgen Klinsmann. The match is also live on Welsh-language channel S4C.
The half-time introduction of Wales striker Kieffer Moore “transformed the game” against the USA, said Ben Fisher in The Guardian. He “has to start” against Iran and accompany captain Bale in attack.