Iran Ready to Face Off FIFA World Cup Rivals

 Iran’s disciplined and well-organized team  Iran’s disciplined and well-organized team

After an almost flawless qualifying campaign, Iran’s national football team will find it far tougher at the Russia World Cup.

Iran’s route to the round of 16 from Group B could be blocked by defending European champion Portugal and 2010 World Cup winner Spain, AP wrote.

But the Iberian teams have good reason to be wary. Iran was unbeaten in 10 qualifiers and did not concede a single goal in the first nine games. And the strongest backline in Asia was only breached by Syria once a place in Russia was already secured.

Contesting back-to-back world cups for the first time, Iran will be aiming for a first appearance in the knockout stage in its fifth attempt.

Since the 2014 tournament, when Iran finished with one point, the team has evolved and Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz has more options in every position—with more than half of the squad gaining experience at overseas clubs.

Queiroz has publicly reminded the Iranian federation of the need for perfection in the World Cup buildup, reflecting concerns about past preparations. While regional rival Saudi Arabia has secured friendlies with Germany and Italy, Iran warms up against Uzbekistan and Latvia.

Queiroz has now steered three teams through four World Cup qualification campaigns.

The experienced tactician has been in charge of Iran since 2011 and taken the team to new heights.

On the field, he has produced a disciplined and well-organized team that has an attacking threat. That success means that his regular run-ins with the federation and club coaches in Iran are tolerated.

Queiroz’s status is enhanced by previous experience coaching at Real Madrid and Portugal.

 Potential Roster

Alireza Beiranvand is likely to get the nod in Russia at the keep. At 1.95 meters, Beiranvand is physically commanding, a fine shot-stopper and known for his distribution, especially with his long throws.

He has been in excellent form for Iranian club Persepolis. One potential issue is that understudies do not have much international experience.

In defense, Iran has multiple options. The back four has been well-marshaled by veteran central defender Jalal Hosseini, but younger players, including Rouzbeh Cheshmi, are now getting a look in. The speed of fullbacks Milad Mohammadi and Ramin Rezaeian is also considerable.

Ehsan Hajsafi, Masoud Shojaei and Ashkan Dejagah bring World Cup experience and scoring ability. Talented players such as Saeid Ezzatollahi and Saman Ghoddos offer more energy. Young Ghoddos chose Iran in the face of an offer from Sweden, where he is based, to show up in international career.

During the clash between his team Ostersund against Arsenal in Europa League round of 32, Ghoddos was greatly admired by the French coach of Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, for his game-making performance.

The World Cup could be the stage for Alireza Jahanbakhsh to secure a big-money move from AZ Alkmaar after rising to the top of the Dutch scoring charts. Sardar Azmoun is already accustomed to the World Cup host after spending the last five years playing in Russia, impressing recently at Rostov and being linked with a move to a bigger league after the tournament. Karim Ansarifard and Mehdi Taremi are also a source of goals.

Iran opens on June 15 against Morocco before taking on Spain on June 20 and Portugal on June 25.

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