“It will be an extremely important game. Not because it’s about politics, but because both teams want to continue in the tournament,” Berhalter said.
The 49-year-old American, who has played football in the Netherlands at PEC Zwolle, Sparta Rotterdam and SC Cambuur, is emphasizing sporting interests ahead of the much-discussed showdown. “I have played and trained in many countries. You get to know so many people. Football connects. It is no longer about political issues, but about sporting interests. It will be a kind of duel to direct elimination: win or go home.”
American footballers have 2 points in Group B after two matches, after draws against Wales (1-1) and England (0-0). Iran started the World Cup with a heavy defeat against the English (2-6), but then won 2-0 against Wales. The Americans need to win to reach the round of 16, for Iran a draw will probably be enough.
Politically, relations between the United States and Iran have been strained for some time. US President Joe Biden decided last month to impose economic sanctions on Iran over the Iranian government’s handling of protests in the country.
USA and Iran also met in the group stage of the World Cup in 1998. Then the Iranians won 2-1. Both countries were eliminated in the group stage.
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