World Cup 2022 team preview: Carlos Queiroz’s Iran to be Group B whipping boys

Our trader Neil Walsh takes a look at Iran's slim chances.

Iran players, Ahmad Noorollahi

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Iran’s heyday was in the 1970s when they won three successive Asian Cups and made a World Cup debut in Argentina 1978, however, their success fell at the worst possible time with the outbreak of the 1979 revolution and subsequent war with Iraq meaning they withdrew or boycotted the following two qualification campaigns and would not return to the finals until 1998 were they recorded a memorable 2-1 win over the USA.

Their next appearance was in 2006, where they registered just one point from a draw with Angola. Under manager Carlos Queiroz they managed to qualify for two successive finals in 2014 and 2018, managing a credible four points, beating Morocco in their opener and a 93rd-minute penalty against Portugal which earned a draw in Russia four years ago.

But do they stand a chance of a repeat this time around? Our footy trader Neil Walsh previews their chances in Group B at the World Cup 2022.

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Carlos Queiroz, Iran manager

Iran World Cup 2022 qualifying record

Iran’s campaign began way back in September 2019 in the preliminary Asian qualifying rounds where they had a brief wobble losing to Bahrain and Iraq, but double-digit victories against Cambodia left them top of that group with a +30 goal difference after eight games. Iran’s following group contained relatively tougher opposition but they managed to top the group again, only failing to beat South Korea who finished two points behind.

Who is the Iran manager?

Carlos Queiroz is probably best known as Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant between 2002 and 2008, sandwiched between a disastrous spell as Real Madrid manager. Well-travelled Querioz has served as national team boss of six nations, and this will be his fourth-successive World Cup as a manager, having led Portugal in 2010 and Iran in the last two. Most recently, his Egypt team narrowly missed out on qualification in a penalty shootout loss to Senegal.

Querioz took the Iran job in September for a second spell after gaffer after Dragan Skočić was removed as manager despite successfully securing qualification.

Iran World Cup squad

They have a weak squad overall with very few names that will be familiar outside of Iran and many of their players are based in the national league back home. Brentford winger Saman Ghoddos is the only Premier League-based player. Strikers Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen) and Mehidi Taremi (Porto) will both bring Champions League experience to an otherwise unknown squad.

Since Queiroz took the job for the first time back in 2011 he instigated a policy of integrating people of the Iranian diaspora and heritage into his squads, with Ghoddos being born in Sweden and actually getting two senior friendly appearances for his country of birth before getting called up by the Portuguese. This policy has greatly improved the squad and is partially the reason they have secured their third-successive World Cup berth. While previous manager Skočić favoured a  4-1-4-1 formation, it is yet to be seen whether Queiroz will continue the tried and tested formation that got them there.

  • Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand, Hossein Hosseini, Payam Niazmand, Amir Abedzadeh.
  • Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian, Abolfazl Jalali, Hossein Kananizadegan, Shoja Khalilzadeh, Mortza Pouraliganji, Majid Hosseini, Sadegh Moharrami, Milad Mohammadi, Ehsan Hajisafi.
  • Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi, Ahmad Nourollahi, Ali Karimi, Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Vahid Amiri, Mehdi Torabi, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Ali Gholizadeh, Saman Ghoddos.
  • Forwards: Sardar Azmoun, Karim Ansarifard, Mehdi Taremi.

Iran Key Player

Leverkusen front man Sardar Azmoun is the standout player, having amassed 41 goals in 65 games, scoring 10 of those in qualification for Qatar 2022. However, controversy looms large with Azmoun, with the player having recently shared on Instagram a post in solidarity with the ongoing Women’s Revolution in his homeland after a pre-World Cup series of games in Austria in late September. Several other players in the squad also shared similar posts of support. Critiques of government and government policy are taken very seriously in Iran and Azmoun could find himself out of the squad for “non-footballing or political reasons”.

Iran One to Watch

Familiar to Brighton fans, Alireza Jahanbakhsh spent three underwhelming seasons on the South Coast where his goalscoring record was not as successful as it was in the Netherlands. Having transferred to NEC Nijmegen in 2013, he was signed by AZ Alkmaar where he went on to become the first Asian player to be top goalscorer in a major European league. His understanding of the Dutch league was enough to seal a deal to heavyweights Feyenoord where he has spent the past two seasons post-Brighton.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Iran

Iran World Cup Prospects

Despite improvement in recent World Cups, the off-field issues surrounding the team which led to their manager’s dismissal just weeks out from this year’s competition, coupled with domestic civil unrest, are far from ideal in terms of preparation. One of only three Arabian teams in the competition, they will be the strongest, however, the pressure of getting results and proving the region has talented players, in what will be a tough group against England, Wales and USA may prove too much. Their opener vs England could be a disaster if Kane and co. are on form, and realistically it’s hard to see them picking up any points this time around.

Iran World Cup betting tips

It’s best to stay clear of anything related to Iran getting positive results. Their opener against England is the worst possible team they could have drawn with Gareth Southgate’s side looking to lay down a marker early on. However, their defence can be solid, and they only conceded four goals in qualification albeit playing much weaker sides. That is why the Over 3.5 market looks so enticing. IRAN V ENGLAND: OVER 3.5 GOALS

Iran World Cup Winner Odds

500/1
Iran World Cup 2022 Winner

Iran World Cup 2022 Fixtures

November 21, 1pm: England v Iran (BBC)

November 25, 10am: Wales v Iran (BBC)

November 29, 7pm: Iran v USA (BBC)

CLICK BELOW FOR TEAM PREVIEWS ON IRAN’S GROUP B RIVALS

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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