Sunday World (South Africa)

Let the games begin… De Sa aims to lead Iran to next round

Ex-bucs coach is working alongside Carlos Queiroz

- By Kgomotso Mokoena

Former Orlando Pirates and Bidvest Wits coach Roger de Sa cannot wait for the 2022 Fifa World Cup to kick-off tonight. De Sa, a former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper will be coaching at the tournament alongside Carlos Queiroz and their goal is to lead Iran to the knockout stages for the first time in history.

Iran will open their account against England tomorrow. They will then face Wales on Friday before wrapping their Group B schedule against the USA on November 29.

Queiroz and De Sa worked together and did wonders when they led Egypt to second place in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in February. They disappoint­ingly lost to Senegal via penalty shoot-outs in the final. The duo also teamed up when they coached Portugal at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“I have been in Iran for two months now. There has been a lot of work put into this. You can imagine working with the local players only – half the squad is made up of local players and we work every day, twice a day to get the guys up to speed,” De Sa opened up to Sunday World from Qatar.

“We are very excited and looking forward to it. Unfortunat­ely, with the tournament at this time of the year, it is a very different World Cup with countries not having enough time to prepare the players.

“Some of the players only arrived on Monday and we are playing a week later. We are not expecting the usual results, there could be a couple of big upsets.”

“It is hot and humid in Doha, and things will be different for sure. Players are coming in very tired from hectic schedules and also the Uefa Champions League or their own domestic programmes that were squeezed to make space for the World Cup.

“Most clubs have been playing twice a week in the last couple of weeks. But it’s always fantastic and a privilege to be part of the World Cup and participat­ing with two countries now has been rewarding for me. It is a pity we could not get Egypt over the line in Cameroon, hopefully we can get through the group stages and it will be special for the people of Iran,” De Sa added.

When asked about being the only SA representa­tive, Roger said: “It’s not good for the country at all. We want to progress and to grow and we need our people to come and participat­e in these tournament­s. There is so much to gain and a lot to learn just by being here – we will all go back home with a better knowledge, understand­ing and more experience. We need to look at ourselves and do something.”

De Sa added that facing England in the first match would be a big challenge for them and the team.

“Yes, there is no better way to kick-start a World Cup campaign. Eish all those English Premiershi­p superstars against our young boys will be interestig­n. We will put up a good fight. We also have Wales and that game will be very tough. The whole world will be watching our game against the US for obvious reasons - that will be a humdinger. All in all, it should be a fantastic tournament and we are ready to play,” he added.

Other South Africans who will be flying the Mzansi flag high are referee Victor Gomes and linesman Zakhele Siwela, who will running the line in the tournament.

There is so much to gain and to learn just by being here

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 ?? Images /Getty ?? Roger De Sa promises to make it special for Iranians.
Images /Getty Roger De Sa promises to make it special for Iranians.
 ?? ?? Carlos Queiroz /Getty Images
Carlos Queiroz /Getty Images

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