England thrashed Iran 6-2 in their opening World Cup 2022 matchup.
Iran’s team at the World Cup has been overshadowed by social issues in their country — and opposition to their inclusion was rife before the start of the tournament.
But their route to the competition in Qatar, which is controversial for the reasons outlined in this article, could not have been more straightforward.
They took part in the Asian Football Confederation’s qualification process and finished top of Group C in the second round — the stage they entered qualification — winning all eight of their games. Iran managed a remarkable 14-goal victory against Cambodia at home and also pulled out a 10-0 away win against the same opponents.
Karim Ansarifard and Sardar Azmoun both scored seven goals in the group stages. Azmoun, however, comes into the World Cup struggling with injury in a potential blow to Iran’s qualification hopes.
Iran finished top of Group A in the third round to qualify for the World Cup, winning eight, drawing one and losing one of their games. Iran also finished ahead of South Korea to book their place at their third consecutive tournament.
Iran team guide: Protests, an historic grudge match and football’s longest throw
Iran’s World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina);
Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (Sepahan), Abolfazl Jalali (Esteghlal), Hossein Kananizadegan (Al Ahli SC), Shoja Khalilzadeh (Al Ahli SC), Mortza Pouraliganji (Persepolis), Majid Hosseini (Kayserispor), Sadegh Moharrami (Dinamo Zagreb), Milad Mohammadi (AEK), Ehsan Hajisafi (AEK);
Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Vejle Boldklub), Ahmad Nourollahi (Shabab Al Ahli), Ali Karimi (Kayserispor), Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Mehdi Torabi (Persepolis), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord), Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi), Saman Ghoddos (Brentford);
Forwards: Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen), Karim Ansarifard (Omonia), Mehdi Taremi (Porto).
Monday, November 21: England 6-2 Iran
Friday, November 25: Wales vs Iran
Tuesday, November 29: Iran vs USA
Iran squad analysis
All anyone — Iranian or otherwise — is really thinking about is that final Group B match against the United States. But Iran might have something to offer before then, with Carlos Queiroz, formerly of Manchester United and Real Madrid, back in charge for his fourth World Cup. Plus they have the goalkeeper with football’s longest throw…
For a full analysis of Iran’s chances in Qatar, click here.
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(Photo: Amin M. Jamali/Getty Images)