‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

TEHRAN, Nov. 20 (MNA) – Qatar’s event is Iran's sixth appearance at the World Cup. Team Melli has never before advanced beyond the group stage but the ‘Persian Leopards’ hope to make history this time.

Iran’s national football team, aka Team Melli, has never progressed out of the group stages in their five previous attempts.

Mozambique-born coach Carlos Queiroz, 69, who led Iran at the World Cup in both 2014 and 2018, will coach the team in Qatar.

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

The former Real Madrid coach is the only coach in Iran’s history to have led the national team to two World Cups in a row. Now, the question is: Will Queiroz be the first coach to lead Team Melli to the knockout stage for the first time?

The squad’s average age is almost 29, compared with 27 and three months for the 2018 tournament in Russia, as the team aims to advance from the group stage for the first time in its World Cup history, Aljazeera reported.

When ESPN said “Iran has been written off as the no-hoper in the group”, Queiroz replied, “Nobody is perfect and at the right moment, it's time to speak inside the pitch.”

When asked, “Iran has never made it out of the group stage at a World Cup, so what are the expectations in Qatar?”, he answered, “We want to move forward, be better, and for sure we have our expectations to reach the second stage of the World Cup.”

Also, the coach said in October, “I think Iran and Japan are the most likely Asian teams to get through the group stage of the World Cup.”

"In 2014, Iran picked up just one point from their group. Four years later, that tally was up to four points despite a more difficult draw. With years of experience under their belts and a coach who knows the ins and outs of this team, it might finally be time for Iran to reach the round of 16 at the sixth time of asking," ESPN reported.

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

The confirmed list of players of Iran’s national football team is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand, Amir Abedzadeh, Hossein Hosseini, and Payam Niazmand.

Defenders: Majid Hosseini, Mohamad Hossein Kanaanizadeghan, Shoja Khalilzadeh, Morteza Pouraliganji, Sadegh Moharrami, Milad Mohammadi, Ramin Rezaeian, and Abolfazl Jalali.

Midfielders: Ehsan Hajsafi, Saeid Ezatolahi, Ali Karimi, Ahmad Nourollahi, Rouzbeh Cheshmi, Mehdi Torabi, Saman Goddos, Ali Gholizadeh, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, and Vahid Amiri.

Forwards: Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi and Karim Ansarifard.

Let’s review highlights on some of the veteran and young players of Team Melli.

Youngest & oldest footballers

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

Saleh Hardani, 23, who is a defender is the youngest player, whereas, Omid Ebrahimi, 35, who plays as a midfielder is the oldest member of Iran’s national football team.

Born on 26, 1998, Hardani plays as a right-back for the Persian Gulf Pro League club Esteghlal.

Although the global average retirement age for a football player is around 35, Omid Ebrahimi, aged 35, who still plays as a midfielder is the oldest and most experienced footballer on Iran’s national football team.

Born on September 15, 1987, Ebrahimi made his debut under Carlos Queiroz on December 9, 2012, in a match against Saudi Arabia.

Alireza Beiranvand & Guinness book

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

Born in 1992, Alireza Beiranvand can be regarded as one of the deciding players of Iran’s national football team. The Iranian goalkeeper holds the Guinness World Record for the longest throw in a football match; the player whose life story also has attracted the attention of sports lovers and a cinematic work named “Beyro” has been made to narrate the life story of the athlete.

The keeper is known for his remarkable throws at the international level. He has been registered in the Guinness World Records book for his farthest distance throw of a soccer ball in a match. Beiranvand set the record during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match against South Korea at the 100,000-seater Azadi stadium on October 11, 2016.

In early November, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) released a list of five all-time Asian stars of the history of the World Cup among whom is the Iranian shot-stopper Alireza Beiranvand.

Amir Abedzadeh; Like father, like son

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

When it comes to talking about Iran’s best goalkeepers in football, the name Abedzadeh comes up. Once Ahmadreza, now Amir.

Amir–the son of legendary Iranian keeper, Ahmadreza–has taken after his father. "Like father, like son" is what the website Kayhanvarzeshi describes him.

Born on April 26, 1994, the player plays for Spanish Segunda Division Ponferradina in the current season.

He was a member of Portugal’s Primeira Liga team Maritimo from 2017 to 2021.

Shoja; brave defender of Iran

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

As his first name is self-explanatory, the bravery of Shoja (meaning brave in Persian) on the football pitch is admirable; the defender who will be a firewall for Iran national football team in World Cup 2022.

Born on May 14, 1989, Shojae Khalilzadeh plays as a center-back for Qatar Stars League club Al Ahli.

Ansarifard; Iran’s Marco Polo

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

Dubbed the successor of Ali Daei – the second top scorer in the world – Iranian footballer Karim Ansarifard is known as the Marco Polo owing to playing in 10 clubs over the past decade.

Ansarifard changed several clubs after he left Saipa to Persepolis in season 2012/13. He joined, Tractorsazi, Osasuna, Persepolis, Panionios, Olympiakos, Nottingham Forest, Al Saliya, and Season AEK Athens, and in 2022 Cypriot First Division club Omonia.

Sardar Azmoun; ‘Iranian Messi’

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

Iran national football team forward Sardar Azmoun has been dubbed the "Iranian Lionel Messi". The striker is also considered the most decorated Iranian player in European leagues.

Sardar Azmoun, who plays as a forward for Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen and the Iran national team, was born in Gonbad Kavus, Golestan Province, in northern Iran on January first, 1995.

Alireza Jahanbaksh; Iran’s football captain

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

Alireza Jahanbakhsh who has previously participated in 2 editions of the World Cup is to be the Iranian players’ captain in the 2022 World Cup.

Born in Jirandeh, Gilan province on August 11, 1993, Alireza Jahanbakhsh is currently putting on the Number 9 of Feyenoord Rotterdam.

Iran’s football striker with sensational goals

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

The Iranian legionnaire who is good at scoring stunning goals is called Mehdi Taremi; the forward was shortlisted for the FIFA Puskas Award 2021 and his bicycle kick goals get standing ovations.

Squawka News has given the Iranian football star, who has recently been selected as the player of the week by UEFA, the unofficial name of “jack of all trades”.

Also, Reuters has described Taremi as “a scoring machine”.

‘Persian Leopards’ resolved to reach knockouts in Qatar

The FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December 2022.

The "Persian Leopards" in Group B of the tournament will face England, the US, and Wales.

Iran, No. 21 in the current FIFA world rankings, will kick off the World Cup campaign in Qatar against fifth-ranked England on November 21.

Iran will meet Wales on Nov. 25 and play the US four days later.

Reported by Amin Mohammadzadegan Khoyi

News Code 193841

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