ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — First they were picked in possibly the toughest group at the World Cup, then they failed to attract any high-quality opposition in friendly matches.
Now, on the eve of the competition, Iran has been hit with sportswear sanctions from the United States, preventing players from wearing their favorite boots.
No wonder Iran coach Carlos Queiroz speaks of the "hurdles" his players are having to mount in Russia as they compete in back-to-back World Cups for the first time.
Queiroz says "We do not allow these problems to become justifications, excuses ... we have been using as an opportunity to develop."
Iran opens play in Group B with a match against Morocco in St. Petersburg on Friday.