0414 GMT November 29, 2020
The Asian powerhouse, under ex-manager Marc Wilmots, got off a to a below-par start to its campaign at the 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers, sitting third in Group C with six points, trailing Iraq and Bahrain by five and three points, respectively, albeit with a game in hand.
However, a couple of good results with new head coach Dragan Skocic, who replaced the Belgian last February, restored hopes of progress to the final round of qualifications.
Skocic saw his team beat Uzbekistan 2-1 in Tashkent in October before a second friendly victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina by two goals in Sarajevo on November 12.
Speaking to Iran Football Federation’s official website, Azmoun said the Croatian head coach has developed a friendly relationship with his players, which has played a major role in his flying start in his new job.
“A close bond between players and the head coach is influential and significant in a team’s success; something that Skocic is fully aware of,” the Iranian international said.
“Skocic works with high energy and focus to help Iran get back on top.”
When asked if Iran is capable of turning things around in the World Cup qualifiers, the 25-year-old striker said, “We have so many great players in our team – many of whom play overseas. We just need to be ourselves [in future matches] and play with intense concentration to see Iran in the World Cup again.”
Azmoun, who was on the score-sheet against Uzbekistan, wore Iran’s armband after first-choice captain Ehsan Hajsafi was substituted in the second half.
“It was a great feeling, but of course a grave responsibility at the same time. You need to help your teammates and stand behind them in tough conditions. I’ll do my best to handle the task in the future.”
A memorable campaign saw Azmoun finish topscorer of the Russian Premier League last season with 17 goals.
Asked about the prospect of a move to a bigger European club for the prolific striker, who has got six goals to his name in the new season, said, “I don’t know what the future holds. That’s for the club to decide and I’ll obey that decision.”