Rob Page says he could make changes for Wales’ final group game against England – believing some players suffered at the World Cup due to a lack of regular playing time at level clubs.
After Wayne Hennessey’s red card, two stoppage time goals condemned Wales to defeat against Iran (opens in a new tab) to leave their chances of qualifying for the Round of 16 hanging by a thread, after a 1-1 draw against the United States in their opener.
Star men Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey both struggled to make an impact on general play during the tournament, having been among those who did not play regularly at club level for a long period.
Although he wouldn’t discuss the duo’s performance specifically, Page suggested he might need to freshen up his line-up for Wales’ third game against England on Tuesday, which the Dragons must now win, and rely on results elsewhere, to have any chance of progressing in the tournament
“That’s the problem you always have – asking players who don’t play for their club to give performance after performance,” he said. “So we’re going to have to look at it and, if necessary, make changes to freshen it up.
“Iran deserved to win – they hit the post, they were denied a goal in the first half, so I’m not going to sit here with sour grapes and say we deserve anything from match.
“We weren’t in the game at all. You can take a day or two off, but when the majority of the team have that, unfortunately there will only be one result.
“I’m disappointed because we fell way below the standards we’ve set over the last few months, to qualify for the World Cup. If we had reached those standards we would have been fine, but we fell way below today and when you do that in the best competitions, you are punished.
“We’re low at the moment, but we’ll pick them up tomorrow and set them up for another tough game to finish.
“We want to give our supporters something to celebrate – they’ve shown a massive commitment to come here, and it really disappoints me that we gave this performance for them today.”
Iran boss Carlos Queiroz praised the two groups of fans for the atmosphere they created inside the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, saying his team’s victory was a gift for all Iranians .
The country is currently in political turmoil, with many protests in the streets – Queiroz felt the situation affected his players’ concentration in their World Cup opener, a humble 6- 2 against England, especially after his side were frequently questioned by the media. about their political views before the game.
Queiroz, however, was proud of how they reacted against Wales. “Today we played with incredible character,” he said.
“I told the players that football is a game where sometimes it’s not because you win or don’t win, but sometimes you lose your dignity, you lose your honor. Of course, after the first game, we bleeding in our pride.
“It was an opportunity to bounce back and we found a strong scarf to stop the bleeding and regain our credibility, showing the football we have in our souls and minds. Put all the rubbish out of our minds and focus- you on the Game. We want to give this gift to all Iranian fans, North, South, East, West – it’s a gift for all of them.
“I think it was a fair result, but Wales have a brilliant team – and I would like to complement not only the Welsh team but also the crowd, the two groups of fans.
“The Red Wall are always amazing, the way they support the team. Also our fans, we have to congratulate them. There was joy, there was drama – I love this game when it’s like that .”