Iran coach Carlos Queiroz will not allow himself or the team fall into the trap of any mind games ahead of their crucial Group B showdown against the USA.
The Iranian Football Federation on Monday complained to Fifa about the USA removing the Islamic Republic symbol from the nation’s flag in some social media posts in the build-up to Tuesday night’s match at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Queiroz himself also become embroiled in a war of words with Jurgen Klinsmann after the former Germany striker spoke about how Iran had been deemed to have deployed gamesmanship and “worked the referee” during their 2-0 win over Wales.
The squad has also played against a background of widespread anti-government protests in Iran, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody in September having been detained for allegedly failing to follow the country’s Islamic dress code.
Nevertheless, former Manchester United assistant manager and Real Madrid boss Queiroz insisted he and all of the players were fully focused on their next game – and the chance to progress to the last 16.
Iran are second in Group B on three points, one point behind leaders England and one ahead of the USA, with all four nations still in contention for a top-two finish.
“I need to be with my mind preparing them to play the best football on the day,” Queiroz said.
“Because if my mind falls in the trap to pay attention and destruct with all those things, I am lying to football. I will not do that to my father and I will not do that to the game.”
Wales 0-2 Iran
Queiroz added: “Those collective set of events which are surrounding this World Cup, I hope it will be a good lesson for all of us in the future and that in the next event, we will learn that our mission here is to create entertainment and at least during 90 minutes, make the people happy.”
Queiroz looked to defuse tensions when asked if he felt Iran would continue to face criticism ahead of their final group match.
“When we respect and we commit ourselves to the values and principles of being part of a team, we can only be better, more stronger," the Portuguese said.
“This is what I always believe in my life and I will always work in that direction, to create a coach code of conduct in terms of principles and values that can make the players believe that every single morning when they wake up, they only have one challenge in mind – to be better, to compete against themselves and they need to be better than the others.”