Iran team 'not under any pressure' after defiant World Cup anthem stance

Iran forward Mehdi Taremi says he and his team-mates are not under any pressure after failing to sing their national anthem in their World Cup opener.

The team made a strong statement as they stood silent when the anthem was played prior to their 6-2 defeat by England in Qatar on Monday.

The action was interpreted as a show of support for mass anti-government protests in their country.

There have been reports the players could later face reprisals but, while Taremi and coach Carlos Queiroz were reluctant to discuss political matters at a press conference on Thursday, the striker claimed there was no problem.

Taremi, who scored both Iran goals against England, said: "I said that I don't want to talk about political issues but I can give you a very short sentence in response to your question because I respect you.

"No, we are not under any pressure. The fact is that we have come here to play football. Not only us, but all the players who are present in Qatar have come here to play football.

"I cannot change anything, thousands of other people like me cannot change anything."

Asked if he had a message for the protesters in Iran, Taremi, speaking through an interpreter, said: "Whatever I say here is not going to have impact anywhere. Whatever was reported I am not going to elaborate, sorry."

Queiroz, sat alongside Taremi, insisted he had no issue with questions of a political nature but suggested he felt Iran were being asked more than their fair share of them.

The Portuguese said: "You asked me if I think it's fair that sometimes they ask us some kind of questions.

"It's your right to do those questions, but what what I feel strange, as a normal citizen of the world, is you don't ask the same kind of questions to the other coaches and other national teams, knowing that they have so many problems at home, and cause so many problems all over the world."

Iran take on Wales in their second Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Friday.

Goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand has been stood down under concussion protocols following his clash of heads with team-mate Majid Hosseini in Monday's match.

Beiranvand required treatment for several minutes after the incident and still looked unwell when he returned to his feet yet, remarkably, he was briefly allowed to play on.

Queiroz said: "Day by day, test by test, everything is moving all right and we are happy with that situation but, due to the fact that he was involved in an incident that is related to concussion, there is a medical protocol that we need to respect.

"There is no way to move around the protocol. He will not play tomorrow, but he will be ready for the last game."

Queiroz is relishing the encounter with Wales as his side look to bounce back from their opening-game hammering.

He said: "Everybody knows our starting game was not what we expect but, for us, the World Cup starts tomorrow. We have two games. We have six points to fight for and that's it."

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