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Iran's Zandi plays down importance of Japan football match

Berlin, March 5, IRNA -- German-Iranian midfielder Fereydoun Zandi played down the importance of the World Cup qualifying match between triple Asian champs Iran and Japan, scheduled to take place at Tehran's Azadi Stadium on March 25.

"It's an important match and a victory in that game would be very important but if it does not happen, we still have every chance to qualify for 2006 World Cup in Germany," the FC Kaiserslautern player told IRNA in an exclusive interview on Saturday.

"In general it's home match for us and if we want to survive the qualification, we have to win our home games," added Zandi who stressed he did not feel any special pressure ahead of the crucial Japan encounter.

The 26-year-old player said he felt comfortable in his new role as a defensive half-back in Iran's recent World Cup qualifier against Bahrain in Manama on February 9.

"This position suits me well at any rate although I have not played it very often. But I still have to improve my tactical play at that position. I am also able to use my offensive qualities in that role," added Zandi whose father is Iranian and mother is German.

Asked about the recent woeful performance by Iranian national team captain Ali Daei against Bahrain, Zandi rejected the harsh criticism in the Iranian sports media.

"Ali Daei is a player who is always good for a goal and I believe, one should not think negatively about him," he stressed.

Comparing the mentality of Iranian footballers with German players, Zandi said he liked the Iranian mentality because it was "more relaxed and loose", especially when it came to game day preparations.

... Payvand News - 3/5/05 ... --

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