Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 13th 2017 Contents sports A45
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 guardian.co.tt
TEHRAN, IRAN---Iran became the second team
to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by beating
Uzbekistan 2-0 yesterday.
It is the first time Iran has qualified for consec-
utive World Cups, and will be its fifth appearance
Sardar Azmoun scored in the 23rd minute and
Mehdi Taremi in the 88th at Azadi Stadium in
Iran, managed by former Real Madrid and Por-
tugal coach Carlos Queiroz since 2011, tops Group
A of Asian qualifying. The team is eight points
clear of third-placed Uzbekistan with two qual-
ifying games left out of ten, so cannot be denied
a top-two finish.
South Korea is in second place, a point ahead of
Uzbekistan with a game in hand. Iran will finish
top of the group.
Iran has yet to concede a goal in qualifying.
Brazil was the first team to qualify for next year's
World Cup in Russia. (AP)
MEXICO CITY---Michael Bradley watched
Hector Moreno's pass to Javier "Chich-
arito" Hernandez in the centre circle and
thought back to the videos he had seen
of the star pushing the ball back. So even
before Chicharito tapped the ball toward
Hector Herrera, Bradley stepped up.
The US captain knocked the ball toward
Mexico's goal, sprinted to catch up and lofted
a right-footed chip from about 40 yards over
goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa's outstretched
arm and under the crossbar.
The crowd of 81,000 at Estadio Azteca
Mexico's Javier Aquino reacts after missing a
chance to score against the US during a World
Cup qualifying match at the Azteca Stadium in
Mexico City, on Sunday. The game ended 1-1.
was stunned. The United States had taken the lead
six minutes into Sunday night's World Cup qualifier.
"Here you know that if you catch a ball right, that
with the thin air the ball's going to really fly," Bradley
US coach Bruce Arena changed seven of 11 starters
and employed a five-man defense to overcome the
7,820-foot altitude and short recovery time. His team
did not quite soar all night, but Bradley's goal set the
tone. Carlos Vela tied it in the 23rd minute on a coun-
terattack with a 23-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Brad
Guzan to the near post , but the Americans hung on
for a 1-1 tie to gain only their third point at Azteca.
"The bad start in the hex meant that every point
now is worth its weight in gold," Bradley said.
Mexico leads the final round of the North and Cen-
tral American and Caribbean region with 14 points,
followed by Costa Rica and the US (eight each), Pan-
ama (six), Honduras (four) and Trinidad and Tobago
(three). The top three advance to next year's World
Cup in Russia, and the fourth-place team faces Asia's
No 5 nation in a play-off.
Panama hosts Honduras today, while Costa Rica
hosts Trinidad and Tobago.
Quite a turnaround since November, when a 2-1
home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout in Costa Rica
caused the US Soccer Federation to fire coach Jurgen
Klinsmann and bring back Arena, the US coach from
"It's going to be very challenging right to end, but
I feel good about where we are," Arena said.
"We've made up some lost ground, so I feel good
Herrera nearly put El Tri ahead in the 71st with a 30-
yard free kick that rebounded off the crossbar. Three
minutes later, Bradley sent a 30-yard shot off a post.
Mexico had only a modest 10-7 advantage in shots at
a venue where it usually dominates. Speaking shortly
after a downpour began in stoppage time, Arena said
a key was exploiting his roster's depth and revealed
he divulged to players when training camp opened on
May 29 that he planned different lineups and forma-
tions for the upcoming qualifiers.
"To repeat the lineup we played on Thursday, we
would have struggled bigtime in the altitude," Arena
"We told the team on Day One we were going to
make seven-to-11 changes for this game. We went
with seven. I was close to nine yesterday."
While he employed a standard 4-4-2 formation in
the 2-0 home win over Trinidad, Arena decided as far
back as January to start five defenders at Mexico. (AP)
Bradley stuns Mexico
as match ends in 1-1 tie
Iran qualifies for
2018 World Cup
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