Soccer-Iran’s Jahanbakhsh sets sights on early World Cup qualification
14 October, 2021, 3:12 am
(Reuters) – Alireza Jahanbakhsh vowed Iran would push to complete their quest for a place at next year’s World Cup at the earliest opportunity after netting his nation’s equaliser against South Korea in qualifying for Qatar 2022 in Tehran on Tuesday.
Jahanbakhsh’s header cancelled out Son Heung-min’s opener for Paulo Bento’s side as the top two in Group A of Asia’s preliminaries shared the points in a 1-1 draw at the Azadi Stadium.
The result means the Iranians lose their perfect record following three straight wins but Dragan Skocic’s side remain two points clear of the Koreans on top of the standings.
“We deserved to get the three points at home,” said the Feyenoord winger.
“We played really well in the second half, but the shots didn’t go in. But, thank god, it’s still one point, we’re still top of the group.
“There’s a long way to go, but were going to keep going, keep pushing forward to make it to the World Cup as soon as possible.”
Son struck three minutes into the second half with a trademark finish on the break before Jahanbakhsh powered a perfectly placed header into the bottom corner 14 minutes from time to earn the hosts a point.
Iran now have 10 points from their first four games and are two points ahead of the Koreans with third-placed Lebanon, who defeated Syria 3-2, a further three points adrift.
Only the top two teams are certain to qualify for next year’s World Cup, with the nation finishing in third place entering in a series of playoff for a potential fifth Asian berth.
“We knew it was going to be difficult,” Jahanbakhsh said.
“We were on top of the group and on our side we wanted to keep going and stay on top of the group. South Korea came to get a point here.”