LITHUANIA – IRAN
January 20th, 2017; Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex, 300 spectators
Best players: Aukštuolis, Esmaeilzadehshahkola
Vytautas Vaškūnas, Head coach of team Lithuania:
– It was a difficult game, because it was our last on the tournament and we were tired. I am happy that we managed to make a lot of substitutions and to let many players take part in this match. I am happy we won.
– How do you find this tournament?
– Atmosphere, communication, accommodation, food, staff – everything is on the highest level.
– Are you comfortable with the time of the year the tournament is held?
– I’ll make a joke first and then I’ll reply seriously. This year I celebrated my birthday here, whereas my wife and four kids were at home. In fact, I am satisfied with everything. If you move the tournament to March then maybe not everyone would be ready to play indoors.
– We saw unusual football from Lithuania today – bright, attacking, without a bet on set pieces. You player even scored a hat-trick…
– You could have seen that our entire team was gathering in a circle after the match. I told the guys that if we would play the full 90 minutes in our next matches the way we played the last ten, then everything would be great with our team. The score was in our favor, and we were playing freely. That’s the way it should be! We can live and play without struggling.
– Last year Lithuania finished on the 14th place. This year you’re on the 13th place. Is this a step forward?
– Yes, it’s a step-by-step movement. A 1000-mile way begins with the first step. In fact, we lost only one match in regulation time – to Kazakhstan, the finalist. We have two wins and three draws in other five matches. This is a normal result for us.
– You told us that the players gave you a book about Mourinho as a birthday present. Have you started to read it already?
– I’ve got three books with me here, but I cannot even start any of them. They are about psychology and religion, by the way, and not about football. Our schedule is full – game – analysis – training – game. My favorite coach is Josep Guardiola, but I am happy to read about Mourinho (smiling).
Abas Chamanian, Head coach of team Iran:
– First of all, I would like to thank the referee, as he taught us a lot today. It seems that he was using the new football rulebook. I congratulate Lithuania on a win, they have a good team. Our players were not perfect today mentally, especially in the first half, as they were making wrong decisions.
– Could you give a comment on your performance on this tournament?
– After the first match I told you on the press-conference that the Granatkin Memorial is a great opportunity to gain important experience for us. And that’s what we managed to achieve here – we learnt a lot.
– Could you share your view on the tournament organization?
– I would like to thank everyone who is involved in making this tournament happen. I personally liked that we could analyze the way all sixteen participating teams were playing. The tournament timing looks optimal for us, because it fits the gap between the Asian Cup and the Youth World Cup.
– There were two teams on the tournament consisting of players born in 2000 – India and Iran. Both finished in the lower part of the final standings. Was it difficult to cope with the schedule and was it hard to compete against the older footballers?
– Coming here we knew it would be hard, harder than many other teams with regard to one-on-one duels against taller and physically stronger opponents. Nevertheless, we view the Saint Petersburg tournament as perfect experience. I hope that it will be helpful in the future and that we’ll be able to correct mistakes that we revealed here.