Route to Russia:
Iran path to Russia was promising, in fact, they set record during their unbeaten qualifying campaign by not conceding a goal for 12 consecutive matches. As a result, they finished first in their group and secured their spot in Russia.
How far can they get:
In the 2014 World Cup, Iran finished bottom of a group that consisted of Argentina, Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This time round, they’ve got Morocco, Spain and Portugal to contend with. Expectations won’t be high heading into Russia 2018, especially as Iran have only ever won one World Cup match in their entire history. To get out the group is clearly their aim, but Iran will have to produce something special to achieve that ahead of the likes of Spain and Portugal.
First appointed back in 2011, Carlos Queiroz is Iran’s longest serving manager in their history, he is also the only manager to lead Iran country to two World Cups, and he’s done it consecutively! He’s also previously managed Portugal, Real Madrid, South Africa and been assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Queiroz has plenty of experience, knows the squad and has had four years to develop it since Brazil.
Ones to watch:
24 year old forward Alireza Jahanbakhsh is Iran’s player to watch this tournament. Since joining AZ Alkmaar in 2015 he has truly began finding his form, scoring 34 goals in 85 appearances, winning best winger in the Dutch league in the 2016-17 season and becoming the first ever Asian player to be the top goalscorer in the Eredivisie (or any major European league) in the 2017-18 season. Iran will hope he brings this form onto the big stage in Russia.