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Ivankovic "very satisfied" with Iran's state of World Cup preparation

Berlin, May 26, IRNA-Iranian national football team head coach Branko Ivankovic stressed he was "very satisfied" with his squad's current preparation for this summer's World Cup in Germany.

Speaking with the bi-weekly kicker sports magazine on Thursday, Ivankovic said, "After initial planning obstacles, I am now very satisfied with our state of preparation. We laid the basis for the physical fitness of our players during our training camp in Switzerland."

The Croatian trainer added although Iran's four Bundesliga legionaries - missed the Swiss training camp because of injuries and regeneration reasons - they are "all physically fit" now.

"They are my key players, they form the skeleton of our team.

Mahdavikia had an outstanding season. Ali Karimi is the soul of our game. Zandi and Hashemian have the capabilities to decide the game.

The whole fabric of our team with experienced, young and key players make us a strong team," Ivankovic added.

The coach reaffirmed that Mexico and Portugal are the favorites in Group D but that Team Melli could defeat them with "their tactical discipline and playful class".

Iran's squad are scheduled to arrive in Germany on June 4 and will play one day later their first test match ahead of the 2006 World Cup against a selected amateur team of the Lake of Constance (Bodensee) region.

Team Melli are due to work out in front of their fans at Friedrichshafen's Zeppelin stadium on June 7 at 6 p.m. local time.

Iran will open their third World Cup campaign after 1978 and 98 against Mexico in Nuremberg on June 11 and will head afterward to Frankfurt and Leipzig for encounters with Portugal and Angola on June 17 and 21.

... Payvand News - 5/26/06 ... --

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