The World Cup Countdown: Iran's Queiroz pessimistic

[BRAZIL 2014] No team is considered a bigger longshot at the World Cup than Iran, which began its final preparations with a 0-0 tie against Belarus on Sunday. International sanctions have made it difficult for Team Melli to find quality opponents, and conflicts with local clubs meant that Coach Carlos Queiroz's largely domestic squad opened training camp last month in South Africa with just 11 players.

World Cup: Friendly Schedule

The conflict arose when two of the four Iranian clubs playing in the Asian Champions League, Esteghlal and Sepahan Isfahan, refused to release their players for the South Africa camp, so Queiroz had to release the players from the other two clubs, Foolad and Tractor Sazi, in the competition. The camp was ended prematurely, forcing a match against Mozambique to be hastily rearranged.

The Iranian website TeamMelli.com quoted Queiroz as saying on Iranian television that “with such arrangement and program failures, don’t expect much from Team Melli in Brazil. We will not make it to the next round because of the failure of the South Africa camp.”

Queiroz now has three weeks in Austria to turn things around.

Injury Report ...

MANDANDA OUT. Goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was forced to pull out of France's squad for the World Cup after injuring his neck in a horrific collision on the final day of the Ligue 1 season on Saturday.

Mandanda lost consciousness after his head hit the knee of Guingamp striker Mustapha Yatabare early in the first half. He had to leave the field on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital, where it was determined he had suffered a neck sprain and a crack in the first cervical vertebra. He will have to wear a neck brace for three weeks.

St. Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier, who was on standby, will replace Mandanda in the France squad.

World Cup 2014 Squads:
Group A: Brazil (23) | Cameroon (28) | Croatia (30) | Mexico (23)
Group B: Australia (30) | Chile (30) | Netherlands (30) | Spain (30)
Group C:
Colombia (30) | Greece (29) | Ivory Coast (28) | Japan (23)
Group D
: Costa Rica (26) | England (23) | Italy (30) | Uruguay (25)
Group E:
Ecuador (24) | France (23) | Honduras (23) | Switzerland (23)
Group F: Argentina (30) | Bosnia-Herzegovina (24) | Iran (28) | Nigeria (30)
Group G: Germany (30) | Ghana (26) | Portugal (30) | USA (30)
Group H: Algeria (30) | Belgium (24) | Russia (23) | South Korea (23)
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