Sports

Coach Queiroz seeks to take the pressure off Iran ahead of Nigeria game

  • Iran's Karim Ansarifard, third from right, plays the ball during an official training session the day before the group F World Cup soccer match between Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Iran's Karim Ansarifard, third from right, plays the ball during an official training session the day before the group F World Cup soccer match between Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)  (The Associated Press)

  • Iran's head coach Carlos Queiroz watches his team during an official training session the day before the group F World Cup soccer match between Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014.  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Iran's head coach Carlos Queiroz watches his team during an official training session the day before the group F World Cup soccer match between Iran and Nigeria at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)  (The Associated Press)

Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz has tried to ease the pressure on his players, insisting his team is the underdog in its opening World Cup game against Nigeria.

While insisting Sunday that international sanctions on Iran have left his team at a "complete disadvantage" at the World Cup, Queiroz said Nigeria can aim as high as the final.

Queiroz's comments ahead of Monday's Group F match at the Arena de Baixada have echoes in the pre-match routine of Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho. Queiroz's fellow Portuguese often lauds the opponents ahead of big games, and the strategy often works.

Amid the sanctions, Iran has struggled to arrange friendlies with other teams and faced numerous financial difficulties.