Iran soccer squad uses presidential plane

Iran's national soccer squad will use the Iranian President's plane to fly to Pyongyang to face North Korea's team, Press TV reported.

"We have to return to Tehran immediately after our match against North Korea because we will meet the United Arab Emirates (UAE) four days later. That's why we asked the president to let US use the presidential plane," Ali Kafashian, the Iranian Football Federation (IFF) chairman said in an interview with Etemad Meli newspaper on Monday.

Iran's next World Cup qualifier will be an away game against North Korea which is scheduled to be held on June 6. Iran managed to defeat the Korean outfit 2-1 in their previous match in the group, held in Tehran.

According to the newly appointed Iranian coach Afshin Qotbi, Iranian players need a boost in spirit rather than a change in technique and tactic in the short time remaining before Iran's June 6 match against North Korea.

"What we need right now is to transfer positive energy to both players and fans. It is more a matter of heart and willingness, and the next matches must therefore be won first outside and then inside the field," Qotbi said on April 30.

The Iranian squad faces an uphill struggle to secure a place at the World Cup, with two away matches in South and North Korea and a home match with the UAE to come.

Asia has four automatic qualifying berths, with the third-placed teams in the two final qualifying groups playing off against each other for the right to take on Oceania zone victors New Zealand for a place in the finals.

Powerhouse Iran is in Group B of the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, along with Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the UAE and North Korea.

South Korea leads the group on 11 points, one point ahead of North Korea and Saudi Arabia. Iran is placed fourth with six points, while the UAE is at the bottom of the group with just one point.

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