(Over the next month or so, we’re going to be doing previews for all 32 teams participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Yes, all 32 teams. We’ll make you laugh, cry, get mad and perhaps question why you read us in the first place. We hope you enjoy the product nonetheless)
Carlos Queiroz’s squad is in a bit of a dilemma. All of Iran’s players will probably be fasting for the month of Ramadan, which falls either on the 28th or 29th of this month, depending on the lunar calendar.
During Ramadan, Muslims have to fast – no food or water – from sunup to sundown. This isn’t ideal. (I’d like to imagine Iranian Twitter would explode if their players started cramping up because of dehydration.)
This will add pressure on Iran, should they make it out of the group, and while the chances of that happening are remote, this is a pretty weak group. Outside of Argentina making it out of the group, nothing is guaranteed.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Davari (Eintracht Braunschweig), Rahman Ahmadi (Sepahan Isfahan), Alireza Haqiqi (Sporting da Covilha)
Defenders: Hossein Mahini (Persepolis), Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Amir Hossein Sadeqi (Esteghlal), Hashem Beykzadeh (Esteghlal), Mehrdad Pouladi (Persepolis), Ahmad Alenemeh (Naft Tehran), Pejman Montazeri (Umm Salal SC), Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Zob Ahan Isfahan)
Midfielders: Reza Haghighi (Persepolis), Andranik Teymourian (Esteghlal), Ghasem Hadadifar (Zob Ahan Isfahan), Bakhtiar Rahmani (Foolad), Javad Nekounam (Kuwait SC), Ehsan Hajsafi (Sepahan Isfahan)
Forwards: Khosrow Heidari (Esteghlal), Karim Ansarifard (Tractor Sazi), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Charlton Athletic), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (NEC),Masoud Shojaei (UD Las Palmas), Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham)
The star of this Iran squad is Charlton Athletic forward Reza Ghoochannejhad (or Gucci to his friends). Gucci represented Holland at the youth level, and has struck nine times for Iran in his first 11 matches. Outside of him, there is Arsenal target Sardar Azmoun, whose claim to fame is his Iranian Messi nickname.
Carlos Quieroz utilizes a very cautious system (also known as parking the bus) due to a lack of firepower in the squad. Apart from Gucci Man, they rely on Fulham midfielder Ashkan Dejagah for goals. Carlos Quieroz also utilizes his mouth quite a lot, complaining about his team’s disorganized preparation – bemoaning the lack of friendlies, club team’s noncooperations and even the new kit. Iran has responded by not renewing his contract.
Iran has a host of other issues plaguing them this campaign, chief among them a lack of first choice goalkeeper and their locker room being out of sorts. These things take a toll on even the most talented teams, and will probably cramp up Iran’s chances of advancing in the group.