BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Argentina and Iran were not allowed to practice at the Mineirao Stadium on the eve of their Group F match because of concerns over the state of the pitch.
After inspecting the pitch Friday, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said it was OK but not as good as the pitch at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, where his team played its first match.
FIFA said in an email to The Associated Press that there was no specific problem at the Mineirao, "just the will to preserve the stadium pitch for the match."
The Argentina-Iran match is the third of six scheduled at the stadium in this World Cup.
Argentina practiced at its base on the outskirts of the city, while Iran practiced at the Independencia stadium in Belo Horizonte. That stadium was built for the 1950 World Cup but is not hosting any matches this time.
"I think it is a good decision to keep the main pitch reserved for the match," Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said. "The players deserve to have an intact pitch."
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