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Iran qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Tuesday 13th June 2017
The second official team to qualify for the 2018 Russian World Cup tournament was decided on Monday. Iran had beat Uzbekistan 2-0 to secure their spot in the finals taking place in Russia. The other team to qualify before Iran was Brazil.

Team Melli managed to qualify on back-to-back occasions for a World Cup for the first time ever. Even before the final tournament has started they have already made history. Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Tahremi got on the scoresheet as Iran also kept a clean sheet against Uzbekistan in a 2-0 victory.
Iran managed to finish top in Group A in the Asian qualifiers. They managed to get 20 points from 8 games. This meant that they comfortably sit 7 points ahead of South Korea. Even though Iran have qualified there is still 2 games left for them up against South Korea and Syria.

As well as joining Brazil in the final tournament, Iran will also be joining hosts, Russia. Even though the 2018 World Cup is their first consecutive one it will be Iran's 5th World Cup finals appearance in their history.

Ex-Manchester United assistant, Carlos Queiroz is the head coach who has been in charge since 2011. In the 2014 World Cup, Queiroz managed the side which didn't make it through the group stage but managed to keep a clean sheet and score a goal. The only goal scorer was Reza Ghoochannejhad. Despite not advancing, Queiroz was offered an extension on his contract and accepted.
If you do recognise Carlos Queiroz as a familiar face and can't figure it out you will most likely have noticed him for being Sir Alex Ferguson's right-hand man. The Portuguese coach will have taken great experience from working next to one of the best managers ever in the game. He will have used that experience and it seems to be paying off for the Iranian national football team.

Iran has some quality up front. They have Rheza Ghoochannejhad who has 17 goals in 36 appearances. They also have Mehdi Taremi who has scored 10 goals in 19 games and Sardar Azmoun who has scored an incredible 19 goals in 26 games. In midfield, they have Ashkan Dejagah who plays for Wolfsburg in Germany and Alireza Jahanbakhsh who currently plays for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
As of June 1st, Iran are ranked 30th in the World according to FIFA rankings. They have dropped 2 places from 28th. By the time the Russian 2018 World Cup comes round be sure to see Iran's position increase due to participation in a World Cup final tournament. Who knows, they may even get further than the group stage. Although that is highly unlikely many Iranian fans will be more than happy for at least one victory in Russia.

For now, though, Iran will be focusing on one of their biggest Asian rivalries, South Korea. The upcoming match will be the 30th meeting between the two nations and pride will be at stake. For South Korea though, it is a matter of qualification. Iran could put a dent in their World Cup hopes if they defeat South Korea. But for now, Iran are already dreaming of that journey to the 2018 World Cup.
Jamie Kynaston

For my sins, I'm a season ticket holder at Stoke City, I have been proud to watch them for over 20 years. I follow most of the UK leagues and the major European ones too, and I've been told that I talk way too much about football.


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