Despite an easy 4-0 win over India in a 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Azadi Stadium here on Thursday, Iranian coach Carlos Queiroz heaped lavish praise on the boys from the sub-continent.
"I was very much surprised by India’s display. There has been a vast improvement in their performance over the last few months," the former Manchester United assistant manager said after the match.
Fielding a depleted side without four first choice players including skipper Sunil Chhetri, a young Indian team had the odds stacked against them. They played their heart out with a fantastic work rate, conceded two goals through penalties and were forced to make two substitutions in the first half itself.
Two penalties converted by captain Ehsan Haji (33rd and 66th minutes) and one each from Sardar Azmoun (61st) and Alireza Jahan (78th) settled the issue for the hosts.
India coach Stephen Constantine admitted that it was a "very difficult" game.
“They controlled the game. It was a very difficult game for us even before it kicked-off. In the first half, we conceded from a penalty and had two Players coming out for injury. It made it all the more difficult for us,” Constantine said at the Official post-match media interaction.
"We are a very young side. One boy made his International debut today and he will never forget the fact that he played his first International match at the Azadi Stadium against Iran," Constantine said, referring to Udanta Singh who became the 23rd Player in the last one year to make his debut for India.
"We tried to contain Iran and paid the price for some mistakes. We were short in some areas and paid the price for that. Iran are one of the Best Teams in Asia and playing at the Azadi Stadium has its own challenges."
India will leave from Tehran on Friday and will arrive in Kochi the next morning ahead of their last tie against Turkmenistan on March 29.