Behnam Yakhchali looks forward to even stronger fan support in home games
We love how the Iranians in Manila came out to support us," he said. "They really lifted our spirits, and we thank them for it." - Behnam Yakhchali
Yakhchali, who leads Iran in scoring so far in the Asian Qualifiers, was instrumental in carrying Team Melli to a big win in Manila in the recently concluded fifth Asian Qualifiers window. Together with Mohammad Jamshidi, Yakhchali led Iran's endgame barrage to pull the rug from under the Filipinos and bring home a crucial seventh win and break a two-game losing streak.
Yakhchali was quick to deflect praise for his part in the win, but he also knows it was an important result against a tough Philippines squad for Iran's World Cup chances.
"The Philippines are a very good offensive team," he said. "We felt that if we could keep them to just around 70 points, that's already a good job for us on defense. We won as a team. It was not just one guy who made the shot and won it for us."
The 23-year-old rising star noted that despite being outnumbered by the home crowd, the presence of Iran's supporters at the Mall of Asia Arena really gave them a boost.
"We love how the Iranians in Manila came out to support us," he said. "They really lifted our spirits, and we thank them for it."
Looking forward to the final window in February next year, the 6ft 3in (1.91m) high scorer is expecting even stronger fan support as they will finish their Asian Qualifiers campaign on home soil.
"We are looking forward to more fans in Tehran in the next window, and we will do our best to win and make it to the World Cup," he said. "We are all sure we will qualify for the World Cup. We have to prepare ourselves for next games in Tehran. We will focus only on winning and qualifying."
The Iranians will try to gain payback in their last two games, which are against Japan on 21 February and Australia on 24 February.