Tehran, Dec 19, IRNA -- Iran's Croat manager Branko Ivankovic here Saturday voiced his pleasure at national defenders' performance during the friendly against the lowly Panama.
The Croat trainer, contrary to experts, believed his men in defense line played a perfect football and did what he had wanted. Iran, which had been depleted due to absence of top internationals, beat the visiting Panama team 1-0 in Azadi Stadium thanks to a penalty kick, which was converted to a goal by veteran skipper Ali Daei on 38 minutes.
The victory pleased Ivankovic, who said the win rose the players' spirits.
"Panama was not an underdog," said the head coach adding that "those, who claimed Panama is a weak squad, have now found out that they were wrong."
Iran is prepping for the final stage qualifiers of 2006 Germany World Cup.
On Dec 8, Iran, Japan, Bahrain, and North Korea were placed in Group B while South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Kuwait were drawn for Group A.
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