Iran coach Carlos Queiroz pleads for sympathy for his suffering players
Coach says Team Melli have had to endure hard times while the country suffers global sanctions and hails his players after their draw with Nigeria
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz called for "sympathy and respect" for his team after they were booed off by the Brazilian fans following their 0-0 draw with Nigeria.
Iran's preparations for the World Cup have been undermined by international sanctions against the Iranian government that has seen their funding cut and made it difficult to organise friendlies against top teams.
And with 14 of his 23-man squad based in the domestic Iran league, Queiroz hailed his side's efforts and said fans had to be realistic of the spectacle they could offer.
"The spectators maybe didn't see it this way, but in football when you play with attitude, soul, emotions, tension it can also be an attractive game and that is what happened," said the former Real Madrid boss.
"Of course you would prefer to see four or five goals and I understand that, but for us we prefer to go home with one point.
"We come from a nation that doesn't have the same facilities. We don't have players from the biggest teams. Instead, they showed they are honest players for 90 minutes with concentration and hard work so they deserve to celebrate.
"We cannot even play friendly games under the economic problems. I hope that after playing against a great team like Nigeria our players get the sympathy and respect they deserve."
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani even praised the team.
"Proud of our boys who secured our first point - hopefully the first of many more to come," Rouhani tweeted on his English-language Twitter account, alongside a picture of him in tracksuit bottoms and a sports shirt adorned with the national flag.
Iranian media also circulated pictures of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his nuclear negotiating team watching the match in Vienna, where Iran is in talks with world powers.
Iran coped ably against Nigeria's Premier League stars as the African champions failed to create any clear-cut chances after a promising opening.
But Queiroz, who guided Portugal to the last 16 in the 2010 finals, claimed he had not had time to think of how to stop four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and his Argentine teammates when the sides meet in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
"We managed to frustrate the football of Nigeria for the first 20 minutes and then we had to stop their stars who began to take it upon themselves to make the game," said the 61-year-old Mozambique-born Portuguese coach.
"It is very hard to stop [John Obi] Mikel, [Victor] Moses, [Peter] Odemwingie etc.
"But step by step we defended very well. We played a realistic game and we always had the intention to score a goal. In the end, it was a draw. That was a fair result because nobody deserved to win the game.
"Now I am so tired I just want to enjoy this point we have achieved. We will have time to think about our next game against Argentina in the coming days," he said.