Iran looking to qualify from Group F at long odds

Iran will be looking to qualify from a World Cup group for the first time, after three failed attempts as they are a massive 7/1 to qualify from Group F.

Manager: Carlos Queiroz
World Cup best:
Group Stage (1978, 1998, 2006)
How they qualified:
First placed finish in Asian Qualifying Group A

A 1-0 home loss to Uzbekistan left Iran with a mountain to climb to reach the World Cup, however three consecutive wins without conceding booked their place in Brazil.

Their final day 1-0 win away to South Korea secured their place at the World Cup, edging out Uzbekistan on goal difference.

Star player: Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham)

Despite Fulham’s relegation to the Championship, Ashkan Dejagah impressed for the club and will surely make a return to one of Europe’s top leagues.

Dejagah scored three goals from outside of the box for Fulham and was arguably the clubs best player during the last two months of the season.

Carlos Queiroz managed to persuade Dejagah to represent Iran instead of Germany and scored twice on his debut!

One to watch: Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan)

Sardar Azmoun is yet to make his national team debut, however is attracting interest from Arsenal and Italian giants AC Milan.

19 goals in just 17 under 20 internationals for Iran has prompted Queiroz to call the youngster into his World Cup squad.

Strengths

Iran conceded just twice during their eight qualifying group games and will need to be as resilient in Brazil.

Charlton loanee Reza Ghoochannejhad has made a good start to his international career and will trouble defenders.

Weaknesses

A lack of creativity in the midfield is a problem, with Andranik Teymourian and Javad Nekounam’s best years behind them.

How far can they go?

Realistically you can’t see Iran qualifying from the group, even though they will have a chance against both Bosnia and Nigeria.

Squad*

Goalkeepers: Daniel Davari, Alireza Haghighi, Rahman Ahmadi, Sousha Makani

Defenders: Khosro Heidari, Hossein Mahini, Steven Beitashour, Pejman Montazeri, Jalal Hosseini, Amir Sadeghi, Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh, Ahmad Alenemeh, Hashem Beikzadeh, Ehsan Hajsafi, Mehrdad Pooladi

Midfielders: Javad Nekounam, Andranik Teymourian, Reza Haghighi, Ghasem Hadadifar, Bakhtiyar Rahmani, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Ashkan Dejagah

Forwards: Masoud Shojaei, Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, Mehdi Sharifi, Reza Ghoochannejhad, Karim Ansarifard, Sardar Azmoun

*Squad will be cut by five to 23 before the start of the tournament

Group F
Argentina
Bosnia
Iran
Nigeria

Fixtures

Monday 16th June: Iran vs. Nigeria 20:00
Saturday 21st June: Argentina vs. Iran 17:00
Wednesday 25th June: Bosnia vs. Iran 17:00

Lewis Jones has over 5 years experience in web publishing, having worked at a number of well known UK facing sports websites. He can be reached at Google+ for more information.

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