Fernando Santos Predicts "Tough Battle" against Iran
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Portugal coach Fernando Santos predicts a "tough battle" in Monday's decisive World Cup group game against Iran as both countries chase a place in the last 16.
European champion Portugal is level with Spain on four points at the top of Group B and needs a draw to guarantee qualification.
Iran, who defeated Morocco in its opening game before losing to Spain, is trying to reach the latter stages of the World Cup for the first time.
"We've seen all the qualifying games, not just those at the World Cup, and we've seen they're a very organized team," Santos told reporters in the pre-match news conference.
"They have quality players, with the experience of two successive World Cups and some of them are playing in big leagues like Spain, Greece or Russia."
Iran must win in Saransk to prolong their Russian adventure and will take heart from a narrow 1-0 loss against Spain, a game decided by a fluke Diego Costa strike.
"In my opinion Iran is the best Asian team. They have a lot of ability as a team and not just as a defensive team. They also know how to play on the counter as they showed against Spain,” Santos said.
"We have to prepare ourselves for a tough battle, with two teams that want to win and that are going to do everything to achieve that," the Portugal coach declared.