Hello sports fans round the globe, today’s edition of my column is on the national team of Iran and the players they used in their world Cup qualification, the minutes played by each of the players and what they contributed to see their country go through to the World Cup in Brazil.
It’s interesting to note that Iran used mostly their home-based professionals during the qualifiers, however, the team are one of the more unknown sides of this summer’s extravaganza. Iran successfully qualified automatically after a two-year marathon slog across Asia, and they have been managed since 2011 by a well-known Portuguese coach Carlos Quieroz, who has increasingly incorporated players from the Iranian diaspora into his squad, namely Mehrdad Beitashour, Ashkan Dejegah and Reza Ghoochannejhad.
A rather unique difficulty that has not helped Iran over the past few years is the political landscape, with very few sides willing to visit Tehran or even play host to Iran.
As a consequence, their friendlies against teams such as Mozambique and Belarus will surely not provide adequate practice for the task of facing a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina.
They have never got past the group stage in their previous three World Cups, and the odds are firmly stacked against them breaking their duck in Brazil.
Below are statistics of how Iranian youngsters fared during the qualifiers; they played 16 matches and used 38 players for the games;
Player Clubs Minutes played in qualifiers
Seyyed Hosseini Sepahan (IRN), Persepolis (IRN) 1,350 mins
Javad Nekounam Osasuna (ESP), Esteghlal (IRN) 1,207 mins
Seyyed Rahmati Esteghlal (IRN) 1,170 mins
Khosrow Heydari Esteghlal (IRN) 1,099 mins
Andranik Taymourian Esteghlal (IRN), Al Kharitiyath (QAT) 972 mins
Hadi Aghily Al Arabi (KUW), Qatar SC (QAT) 879 mins
Mehrdad Pooladi Persepolis (IRN) 872 mins
M.-Reza Khalatbari Al Gharrafa (QAT), Al Wasl (UAE), Sepahan (IRN) 846 mins
Ali Karimi Persepolis (IRN) 724 mins
Pejman Montazeri Esteghlal FC (IRN) 630 mins
Mojtaba Jabbari Esteghlal FC (IRN) 595 mins
Karim Ansarifard Saipa (IRN), Persepolis (IRN) 543 mins
Hossein Mahini Zob Ahan (IRN), Persepolis (IRN) 514 mins
Reza Ghoochannejhad Standard (BEL), St. Truidense (BEL) 431 mins
Masoud Shojaei Osasuna (ESP) 387 mins
Mohammad Ghazi Zob Ahan (IRN), Persepolis (IRN) 338 mins
Gholamreza Rezaei Persepolis (IRN) 336 mins
Ehsan Hajysafi Tractor Sazi (IRN), Sepahan (IRN) 312 mins
Pejman Nouri Al Emirates (UAE), Malavan Anzaly (IRN) 279mins
Rahman Ahmadi Saipa (IRN) 270 mins
Ashkan Dejagah Wolfsburg (GER), Fulham (ENG) 270 mins
Hashem Beikzadeh Esteghlal (IRN) 260 mins
Ghasem Hadadifar Zob Ahan (IRN) 250 mins
Mohamad Noori Persepolis (IRN) 246 mins
Maziar Zare Persepolis (IRN), Malavan Anzaly (IRN) 201 mins
Amir Sadeghi Tractor Sazi (IRN) 180 mins
Hadi Noroozi Persepolis (IRN) 160 mins
Milad Meydavoudi Esteghlal (IRN) 124 mins
Farhad Majidi Esteghlal (IRN) 110 mins
Mohammad Ebrahimi Tractor Sazi (IRN) 80 mins
Javad Kazemian Persepolis (IRN) 74 mins
Mohammad Gholami Sepahan (IRN) 22 mins
Mohsen Mosalman Zob Ahan (IRN) 21 mins
Mohammad Nosrati Persepolis (IRN) 21 mins
Milad Zeneyedpour Steel Azin (IRN) 13 mins
Alireza Abbasfard Rah Ahan (IRN) 10 mins
Saeid Daghighi Shahrdari Tabriz (IRN) 7 mins
Omid Ebrahimi Sepahan (IRN) 2 mins
Provisional 28-man Iran 2014 World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig), Alireza Haghighi (Sporting Covilha, on loan from Rubin Kazan), Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan), Sousha Makani (Foolad Khuzestan).
Defenders: Khosro Heidari (Esteghlal), Hossein Mahini (Persepolis), Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps), Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal), Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Amir Sadeghi (Esteghlal), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Zob Ahan), Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft), Hashem Beikzadeh (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan), Mehrdad Pooladi (Persepolis).
Midfielders: Javad Nekounam (Al Kuwait), Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal), Reza Haghighi (Persepolis), Ghasem Hadadifar (Zob Ahan), Bakhtiyar Rahmani (Foolad), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC Nijmegen), Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham).
Forwards: Masoud Shojaei (Las Palmas), Mohammad Reza Khalatbari (Persepolis), Mehdi Sharifi (Sepahan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton), Karim Ansarifard (Persepolis, on loan at Tractor Sazi), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan).
Based on their regular fixtures in previous matches, below is a possible Iran World Cup Starting Line-Up and formation;
Heydari Montazeri Hosseini Beikzadeh
Shojaei Nekounam Teymourian Dejagah
This will be all for now on our focus on the Iranian team, join me again for another edition, till then, have a nice day and poke in some goals for now and the future.
Only goals and consistency that make the ifference in life.
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