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What to expect from Iran during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil




They’re back! Team Melli is in the World Cup for the fourth time in national history after qualifying in 1978, 1998 and 2006. After missing out in 2010, they were one of the first teams to qualify for this 2014 version of the greatest spectacle in sports. They won their group in the qualifying round decisively and are currently ranked #1 in Asia. They are now in Brazil with aspirations of winning the World Cup trophy. But first things first, getting past the first round Group F Stage where they will be facing Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Argentina. Even though a majority of the Iranian players may lack experience against global powers, their coaching staff is well versed. Led by former Real Madrid and Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz, the Iranian national team is poised to have a good showing. Queiroz will be supported on the pitch by such stalwarts as Ashkan Dejagah and Reza Ghoochannejhad, who he hand picked to join the national team roster. 


Dejagah, a forward for Fulham in the English Premier League has the most experience against formidable opponents. Ghoochannejhad, affectionately called Gucci, also plays professionally in England for Charlton Athletic. Team Melli’s captain Javad Nekounam, a central midfielder known for his passing and long-range shots, was the leading scorer during Iran's World Cup qualifying campaign. He is second all-time in caps for the Iranian team with 140, just behind Ali Daei. Nekounam also has World Cup experience, playing two games for the national team in Germany in 2006. Defensively, Team Melli is led by Iranian-American footballer Steven Beitashour, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS. Also, leading the defensive front is Andranik Teymourian who played in the 2006 World Cup as well. Other key players are Khosro Heydari, Karim Ansari and Hashem Beikzadeh. 


Iran’s hopes of getting to the knockout stage for the first time in national history rests with their defense and coaching. One of Quieroz’s first adjustments after becoming head coach was making several difficult roster decisions to bolster the backfield. First, he tweaked the goalkeeping personnel and later recruited Dejagah and Ghoochannejhad. The two strikers with European club experience will be expected to lead the offensive attack, but are supported by the proven leadership of Nekounam. As Team Melli embarks on the grandest of stages, they have their sights set on their upcoming schedule. Iran’s most formidable opponent will be Argentina led by striker Lionel Messi, who is considered by some as the greatest footballer of all time. Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only newcomers to the World Cup tournament. Despite being debutantes to the grand stage of football, they still pose a threat. They are led by Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic also of the Premier League and have the coaching expertise of legendary Yugoslavian player Safet Susic. 


Iran opens group play Monday June 16 against Nigeria. The Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations and are led by Liverpool forward Victor Moses. Team Melli, for the most part, is not expected to advance past the first round. History may not be on their side. But the experience of Quieroz, the striking consistency from their stars, and the defensive discipline of their backfield can allow Iran to stay longer in Brazil than expected. After all, if their coach is fluent in Portuguese, what better way to make use of his native tongue by keeping his players in Brazil for as long as possible?


Iman Sadri @ImanSadri

Iman Sadri is a journalist, sports and cosmetic dentist, and speaker based in Irvine, Calif. He can be reached at

Irvine, CA

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Niloufar Parsi

Great read. thanks for posting.

above all, I wish team melli a great time in Brazil. may they get to stay there for weeks.... :)


Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Thanx for an informed, sympathetic and objective piece. If team Melli does advance beyond the first round, it will indeed be a major achievement.
Spain's losing game yesterday proved once more not to predict too much about the final results in the world cup. Although a prediction of Brazil & Argentina in the final is not that far fetched.

One group of Iranians that were not mentioned in your article, but will accompany team Melli to Brazil, are the official monitors from the Article 90. They have explicitly stated to be thoroughly watching all Iranians (who've traveled from Iran to Brazil) and monitoring their behavior, making sure they don't violate any Islamic laws, in the land of heathens.
Even George Orwell could not come up with these official policies that "our" government pursues.
They are back all right!


Hoshang Tarehgol An injury to one is an injury to all.

Not only the mullahs fear Iranian people watching the games inside Iran, they're also apprehensive about how Iranians going to the games will be watching the matches. An official delegation from Islamic Republic of Hell called "the Article 90 Commission" has been dispatched to Brazil, to monitor & report back on how Iranians (the ones traveling from Iran to Brazil) "behave" in there & whether they've transgressed in the land of heathens.
Even Kafka couldn't come up with such dark & strange scenarios! Only in Islamic Republic of Hell.


newsjunkie news,news,news

ball and chains follows Iranians even when they are abroad, whether they are athletes or average Iranians who want to participate in political activities but fear for the families back home being harmed by the fascist "republic"!



Excellent information, thank you. I've been reading a lot on the team everywhere but nothing this useful yet without having to read volumes!
We are all (minus the usual bitter bunch that is) rooting for the team. GO IRAN!



As I was watching holland pummel the world champion espain, I thought "is it possible for another miracle with Iran?". But, then again, I just hope the boys play well, give the folks something to cheer and have a good time..
Good luck, boys.



Iran Vs. Nigeria game will be on ESPN 11:30 am Pacific time!
Can't wait!