Iran's FIFA World Cup™ clash with Lionel Messi's Argentina in Belo Horizonte is the most "eagerly anticipated" in the country's history, coach Carlos Queiroz said on Friday.
And the Portuguese, who has revealed he will leave the job after the World Cup, insisted his Asian minnows would not be defeated before even taking to the field against the South American heavyweights. "It's the most eagerly anticipated match in the history of Iranian football. We've never played against a team like this before," said the 61-year-old Queiroz.
It was a Group F match "between a team that is here to win the World Cup and another that is here to win its own World Cup, so to speak," he added. "I think our primary mission is to go beyond our limits, to put in an outstanding performance because we're up against a team of great quality. We can't play against Messi, we'll play with Messi, with a lot of concentration and discipline."
[The match is] between a team that is here to win the World Cup and another that is here to win its own World Cup.
Although Queiroz's admiration for the Argentines was palpable, he stressed that it does not mean his team will be in awe of their opponents. The last time these two sides met, in a friendly in 1977, Iran earnt a 1-1 draw against a team featuring Ossie Ardiles, Leopoldo Luque and Daniel Bertoni.
And Queiroz also pointed to a number of stunning upsets that have help light up this competition, such as Costa Rica's 1-0 win over Italy and Chile defeating holders Spain 2-0, as reason to remain hopeful.
"No match is won before being played. That's the beauty of football," added the former Real Madrid boss and Manchester United assistant to the legendary Alex Ferguson. "Our path up until now has been very tough. The qualification in Asia was very difficult but we have a great opportunity to play against these fantastic players (Argentina)."
Argentina top Group F after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina in their opener. Iran held Nigeria to a goalless draw.