Iran were undisputedly the best qualifiers out of the Asian teams, unbeaten in 10 games, and only conceding on two occasions. Their qualification for Russia 2018 means that they have now qualified for two successive World Cup finals, the first time in their history that they have achieved such a feat. With coach Carlos Queiroz developing the national side into a disciplined, organised and intelligent unit, the mood in Iran is optimistic going into the tournament in the summer. However, they face a very testing group, going up against Spain, Portugal and Morocco. If they are to have a chance of proceeding to the next round, they need to perform at their best, and hope that other results go their way.
Defensively, Iran are a solid unit. Only shipping two goals during qualification, the defensive players work well together. Unfortunately for them, they face Spain in their second game, and if the Spanish can take apart a world-class defence like Italy’s, as they did in the qualifiers, then they can take apart any defence this summer, no matter how solid it looks. It is imperative that Iran get off to a confident start in Russia, and they need to pick up three points against Morocco in their opening game to give them any chance of reaching the second round.
- Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan) – Iran have, arguably, the best striker in Asia at the moment in Azmoun, who ply’s his trade with Russian side Rubin Kazan. Despite having him at their disposal though, the national team often struggled with finding the net during qualification. They need to give Azmoun more support and service this summer, as he can be the key man that determines how far Iran will progress in this World Cup.
- Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis) – Seyed Jalal Hosseini, known as Jalal Hosseini, is a veteran of the Iranian national team, and at 36 years of age, has over 100 appearances for his country. He has been the key leader in the defensive unit that were so solid during qualifying, and he will be expected to attempt to contain the attacking threats of Portugal and Spain in the summer. A cool head, and with a wealth of experience to call upon, Hosseini seems to be the only leader in a team of technically gifted youngsters. With Iran essentially strolling through qualification, it will be interesting to see who will emerge as a leader alongside Hosseini when the pressure is on.
Carlos Queiroz – In charge for six years, Queiroz has led Iran to their first ever back-to-back World Cup finals, and is a fan favourite. Having previously guided South Africa and Portugal to World Cup finals, Queiroz is certainly experienced on the world stage, which will be of vital importance in the summer when his squad are expected to be put under serious pressure by Spain and Portugal.