Iran - Team Profile

Iran reached their first World Cup in 1978 but that was it for 20 years

Manager: Carlos Queiroz

Best finish: Group stages (1978, 1998, 2006).

World Cup record: Played 12, Won 1, Drawn 3, Lost 8

History

Iran reached their first World Cup in 1978 and, with apologies to our Scottish friends, they picked up their only point in a 1-1 draw with Ally MacLeod's Tartan Army. They didn't make another finals until '98, when, appearing quite up for it for some reason, they beat the USA. Their last appearance was in 2006, when they lost to Mexico and Portugal before a draw with Angola.

Whiteboard

One thing Queiroz doesn’t lack is experience, having already managed South Africa and Portugal at the World Cup. He took the Iran gig in 2011 and has a preference for a 4-4-1-1, with Reza Ghoochannejhad (Gucci, mercifully, for short) his front man. He and Fulham’s Ashkan Dejagah got the goals that pushed them over the line.

All Star – Reja Ghoochannejhad

Since his goals in the qualifying campaign, including the one that clinched qualification against South Korea, the former Dutch youth international is Iran’s golden boy. Mind you, he only managed one in 17 appearances for Charlton after he joined them in January.

County Colours – Cork

Once a rich cultural hub, now a paranoid and insular rogue state.

Pundit's Corner – Ronnie Whelan: "Ah Jaysus, Bill, Iran? Give us a break."

Prospects

Qualifying was " a journey through hell," said Queiroz, "but now begins the journey through heaven." Against Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria in Group F, we're not sure they have a prayer to be honest.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: 1 Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan), 12 Alireza Haghighi (Sporting Covilha, Por on loan from Rubin Kazan, Rus), 22 Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig, Ger), 23 Mehrdad Pouladi (Persepolis).

Defenders: 4 Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), 5 Amir-Hossein Sadeghi (Esteghlal), 13 Hossein Mahini (Persepolis), 17 Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft),

Midfielders: 3 Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan), 6 Javad Nekounam (Kuwait SC/Kuw), 8 Reza Haghighi (Persepolis), 11 Ghasem Haddadifar (Zob Ahan), 14 Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal), 15 Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal), 18 Bakhtiar Rahmani (Foolad), 19 Hashem Beikzadeh (Esteghlal), 20 Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps, Can).

Forwards: 2 Khosro Heydari (Esteghlal), 7 Masoud Shojaei (Las Palmas. Esp), 9 Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC Nijmegen/Ned), 10 Karim Ansarifard (Tractor Saz on loan from Persepolis), 16 Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton, Eng), 21 Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham, Eng).

TEAM LINE-UPS

IRAN (v Nigeria): 12 Alireza Haghighi; 15 Pejman Montazeri, 4 Jalal Hosseini, 5 Amir-Hossein Sadeghi, 23 Mehrdad Pouladi; 2 Khosro Heydari (7 Masoud Shojaei, 89 mins), 14 Andranik Teymourian (yc), 6 Javad Nekounam, 3 Ehsan Hajsafi; 21 Ashkan Dejagah (9 Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 73 mins), 16 Reza Ghoochannejhad.

IRAN (v Argentina): 12 Alireza Haghighi; 15 Pejman Montazeri, 5 Amir-Hossein Sadeghi, 4 Jalal Hosseini,  23 Mehrdad Pouladi;  7 Masoud Shojae (yc) (2 Khosro Heydari, 77 mins), 14 Andranik Teymourian, 6 Javad Nekounam (yc), 3 Ehsan Hajsafi (8 Reza Haghighi, 88 mins); 16 Reza Ghoochannejhad, 21 Ashkan Dejagah (9 Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 85 mins).

IRAN (v Argentina): 12 Alireza Haghighi; 15 Pejman Montazeri, 4 Jalal Hosseini, 5 Amir-Hossein Sadeghi,  23 Mehrdad Pouladi;  7 Masoud Shojae (2 Khosro Heydari, 77 mins), 14 Andranik Teymourian, 6 Javad Nekounam, 3 Ehsan Hajsafi (9 Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 63 mins); 16 Reza Ghoochannejhad, 21 Ashkan Dejagah (10 Karim Ansarifard (yc), 68 mins).

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times

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