Iraq, Iran resume rivalry in pivotal battle

TEHRAN, Nov. 13 (MNA) – Iran national football team will lock horn with their familiar foe Iraq on Matchday 5 of Asia's second round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Thursday.

Group C leaders Iraq entertain Iran in neutral Amman as the two sides resume what is one of Asia's most well-known rivalries, one which dates back all the way to 1962, FIFA.com reported.

Marc Wilmots' visitors can, of course, take heart from their superior head-to-head record in all competitions, including winning two and losing one of their past three World Cup qualifying meetings. Srecko Katanec's hosts side, however, have proven more than competitive over their rivals in recent meetings, including at this year’s AFC Asian Cup.

Having suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of Bahrain in the previous outing, Team Melli are under pressure to bounce back with an away win. Wilmots has named a full-strength squad featuring ten overseas-based players. Katanec, though, has called up a trio of uncapped players to provide fresh impetus to Iraq as they aim to cement their place at the top with all three points. Should the battle end in stalemate, Bahrain, level with Iraq on points, have the opportunity to move top with victory in Hong Kong.

Iran are aiming to book a place in the FIFA World Cup for the third time in a row, as the Persians took part in the two previous editions under guidance of Carlos Queiroz. Traditional rivals Iran and Iraq will meet in a contest which neither side can afford to lose.

MNA/TT

News Code 152250

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