Iran are set to participate in their fifth World Cup in Russia and second consecutive after their involvement in Brazil 2014. The local federation has maintained faith in Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz and his Iranian side have established themselves as one of the dominant forces in the Asian Confederation.
In their past group qualification stage ‘Team Melli’ recorded six wins and four draws only conceding two goals (both against Syria) in their journey to Russia with the team built on a solid rear-guard and defensive focus.
The Portuguese coach favours a 4-3-3 formation with the team capable of launching lightning counters that have served the Iranian side well as they sought their passport to Russia.
The Persian side are happy to let their opponents retain possession in the knowledge that the discipline installed in the defence will do their job when called upon.
At the Brazil 2014 tournament “Team Melli” managed to draw with Nigeria and were most unlucky to lose to Argentina with a injury time Lionel Messi goal depriving the Iranian side of a historic result. Many of the players that participated in Brazil remain such as defender Hosseini or midfielder Dejagah. The side has also seen fresh blood injected into the squad as well with exciting young players such as Azmoun or Pouraliganji sure to catch the eye in Russia.
|DOB.: 01/03/1953||Preferred system: 4-2-3-1|
|Matches: 70||W/D/L: 42/20/8|
It is something of a rarity in modern international football for a head coach to retain his position for such a long spell but that’s exactly the case with Carlos Queiroz and the Iranian Football Federation. The former Real Madrid and Portugal boss took over as coach of Iran in 2011 and has stamped his personality on one of the strongest national teams in Asia.
The coach has installed the importance of working with young talent an this is now being reflected at club level where the major clubs in the domestic league have strong youth set-ups. The challenge for Iran at Russia is to qualify from a tough Group B and improve on the decent performances as witnessed in Brazil.
|DOB.: 01/01/1995||Position: Forward||Age: 22||Club: Rubin Kazan|
|Height: 186 cm||Weight: 72 kg||Caps.: 28||Goals: 22|
23-year-old Sardar Azmoun is the star name in ‘Team Melli’. Currently playing in the Russian Premier League and generating interest among some of European football’s biggest names, the striker was on target on 11 times in fourteen qualifying matches.
In recent months the player has seen a dip in form with club side Rubin Kazan and failed to hit the heights and goals that he has attained in the white shirt of Iran. Azmoun is a tricky player gifted with pace and an ability to work in limited space.
Last season when playing for FC Rostov he was one of the standout players in the Champions League games against Atletico Madrid scoring against both Diego Simeone’s side and indeed German giants Bayern Munich.