Salvador, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Iran will aim to keep its World Cup hopes alive on Wednesday at the Arena Fonte Nova with a win over hard-luck Bosnia-Herzegovina in the final match of Group F play.
Iran nearly pulled off one of the most stunning results in the tournament in its last match as the team held Argentina without a goal until stoppage time, when Lionel Messi rescued the South Americans with one moment of magic for a 1-0 win.
Head coach Carlos Queiroz saw his Iran side create chances and really give Argentina trouble before the late goal from Messi, which didn't take away from the coach's praise for his side following the match.
"I'm proud of my players because we competed for the whole 90 minutes," Queiroz said. "The game panned out just as we expected: Argentina had control of the ball and Iran were organized in defense, disciplined and very focused. We tried to deny them space when they attacked, but then I put two strikers on because we wanted to win and you have to take risks if you want to do that. If we'd scored, we would probably have made life harder for Argentina. The fact is, though, that Messi can change games just like that. He kept looking and looking and in the end he got his reward."
Despite the defeat, Iran still has a chance at reaching the knockout round with a win over Bosnia and a Nigeria loss against Argentina.
A draw between Nigeria and Argentina would eliminate Iran no matter what it does against Bosnia, but Queiroz must first make sure of bagging three points before anything else.
Bosnia's debut at the World Cup has ended quickly, with the team losing a pair of one-goal games to be eliminated.
However, don't expect Bosnia to lay down for Iran on Wednesday as the team would like to take away at least something from its maiden voyage on the world's biggest stage.
Bosnia's opener saw the team lose 2-1 to Argentina after scoring an own goal in the first three minutes, and the team's 1-0 defeat to Nigeria was even tougher to swallow.
Edin Dzeko thought he had given Bosnia the lead in the 21st minute, but his goal was ruled out for offsides, with replays showing that the call was a mistake.
To make matters worse, Nigeria took the lead eight minutes later through Peter Odemwingie after Emmanuel Emenike appeared to foul a Bosnia defender before delivering the cross that Odemwingie turned home.
Despite not getting the rub of the green, head coach Safet Susic didn't express any bitterness after the match.
"The match unfolded exactly the way I imagined," Susic said of the Nigeria defeat. "It was an open game, two teams wishing to win, lots of chances at either end. We had a lot of chances and didn't convert any. They had one and scored that goal. I can only congratulate them. We knew they would be tough but they surprised us with their speed, their movement. They played attacking football, they really wanted to win. Now they are in second place in the group with great chances to progress."
Bosnia may be heading home, but before exiting, the team will hope to take Iran with them, and in the process earn the country's first points at a World Cup.