World Cup Team Profile - Iran
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Captain: Javad Nekounam (Al-Kuwait)
Full Iran Roster
The Road to Rio: Iran is the lone Asian qualifier to have survived three rounds of qualification to get to Brazil. They thumped Maldives in a second round head-to-head by a 5-0 aggregate, sending them to Round 3 where they went undefeated in group play.
Undefeated might even be selling Iran short, as the team straight-up dominated Qatar, Bahrain and Indonesia, advancing to Round 3 with the continent’s best goal differential, despite registering three ties. Iran had six players register multiple goals in the round, but only none would score more than three total over the eight games.
They would continue their strong play in the final qualification round and top their group, despite losses to Uzbekistan and Lebanon. However, those two losses accounted for the only two goals they would concede in the round. Helping their cause, too, were a pair of 1-0 victories over Korea Republic that pushed the perennial Asian powers into a fight for second in the group with the Uzbeks.
Last World Cup appearance: Germany 2006 (Group Stage)
First World Cup appearance: Argentina 1978 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
Best World Cup finish: Group Stage
Iran failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and last made the tournament in 2006, where they were eliminated in the group stage after earning only a draw against Angola in their final match.
This will be Iran’s fourth trip to the World Cup and they have yet to reach the knockout stage. It will take everything they’ve got to find their way into the Round of 16 in Brazil.
Defensive midfielder and team captain Javad Nekounam will have to do a lot of things to help both Iran’s attack and defence. He will be counted on to break up offensive attacks and help the team quickly transition up the field. Nekounam will need a high rate of possession to give him the chance to control the game.
Head coach Carlos Queiroz does have his own World Cup experience as he was in charge of the Portuguese side during the South African tournament. He is known for a defensive and counterattacking system and they will need to stick to that plan and keep their shape to have a chance.
If Iran can get the ball forward in dangerous areas, look for Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah to make his mark offensively. He has a lot of speed in his game and will be in the middle of any attack Iran can mount.
As one of the lowest ranked teams in the competition. not much is expected from Iran, however. if they can stick to the plan that got them through qualifying. they might be able to get a result out of at least one of their group games.