Iran national football team

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Iran
Nickname(s)Team Melli, The Cheetahs
AssociationFootball Federation of Iran (FFIRI)
ConfederationAFC (Asia)
Sub-confederationCAFA (Central Asia)
Head coachDragan Skočić
CaptainEhsan Hajsafi
Most capsJavad Nekounam (151)
Top scorerAli Daei (109)
Home stadiumAzadi Stadium
FIFA codeIRN
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 31 Steady (27 May 2021)[1]
Highest15 (August 2005[2])
Lowest122 (May 1996[3])
First international
Unofficial
 Afghanistan 0–0 Iran 
(Kabul, Afghanistan; 25 August 1941)
Official
 Turkey 6–1 Iran 
(Istanbul, Turkey; 28 May 1950[4])
Biggest win
 Iran 19–0 Guam 
(Tabriz, Iran; 24 November 2000)[5]
Biggest defeat
 Turkey 6–1 Iran 
(Istanbul, Turkey; 28 May 1950[4])
 South Korea 5–0 Iran 
(Tokyo, Japan; 28 May 1958[6])
World Cup
Appearances5 (first in 1978)
Best resultGroup Stage (5 times)
Olympic Games
Appearances3 (first in 1964)
Best resultQuarter-finals (1976)
Asian Cup
Appearances14 (first in 1968)
Best resultChampions (1968, 1972, 1976)
WAFF Championship
Appearances7 (first in 2000)
Best resultChampions (2000, 2004, 2007, 2008)

Iran national football team (Persian: تیم ملی فوتبال مردان ایران‎, romanizedTīm-e Melli-e Fūtbāl-e Mardān-e Īrān) represents Iran in international football and is controlled by the Iran Football Federation. Between December 2014 until May 2018, it was the highest-ranked team in Asia, the longest continuous period of time that a team has held that distinction.[8]

At the continental level, Iran has won three Asian Cup championships in 1968, 1972 and 1976. The nation's best performance at the Olympics was reaching the quarterfinals at the 1976 Montreal Games. At the FIFA World Cup, Iran have qualified five times (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014 and 2018) and have never progressed beyond the group stages and have won only two matches: against the United States in 1998 and Morocco in 2018.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

The very first Iran selection football team that traveled to Baku in 1926.

The Iranian Football Federation was founded in 1920.[9] In 1926 Tehran XI (selected players from Tehran Club, Toofan F.C. and Armenian Sports Club) traveled across the border to Baku, USSR, this was the first away football match for an Iranian team. This Tehran Select team is the predecessor of Iran's national football team and Azerbaijan national football team.

The first match that Team Melli played was on 23 August 1941, away at Kabul in a 1–0 win against British India while Iran's first FIFA international match was on 25 August 1941, away at Afghanistan.[4] Iran won the Asian Cup three consecutive times (1968, 1972, 1976) to which the team has not been able to add since.

1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina[edit]

Additional information: 1978 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC and OFC)
Additional information: 1978 FIFA World Cup – Group 4
Iran's squad playing in '78 World Cup match against Scotland in Cordoba, Estadio Cordoba, Argentina on 7 June 1978 (16:45)

In 1978, Iran made its first appearance in the World Cup after defeating Australia in Tehran. Iran lost two of three group stage matches against the Netherlands and Peru.[10] Team Melli managed to surprise some in the footballing community[11] by securing one point in its first ever World Cup appearance against Scotland which saw Iraj Danaeifard cancel out an own goal scored by Andranik Eskandarian for the 1–1 draw.[12]

After the Revolution[edit]

After the 1979 Revolution, football was somewhat neglected and cast aside. During the 1980s, the Iranian national team did not feature in World Cup competitions due to the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88) and domestic football embraced the inevitable effects of conflict. The national team withdrew from the Asian qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup and refused to participate in the qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup because of having to play on neutral ground. The war and political upheavals left Iran without major club competitions until 1989 when the Qods League was established. A year later, the Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League. Despite failing to qualify for either the 1990 or the 1994 World Cups, it was said that during this period, a number of quality players burst onto the Iranian football scene laying the foundation for third place in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup (victories in that tournament included a 3–0 victory against Saudi Arabia and a 6–2 victory against South Korea) and their second stab at World Cup glory in 1998.[13]

1998 FIFA World Cup in France[edit]

Additional information: 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC–OFC play-off)
Additional information: 1998 FIFA World Cup – Group F

In November 1997, Iran qualified for the 1998 World Cup after eliminating Australia in a close playoff series. Both games finished undecided but Iran managed to qualify due to the away goals rule. Iran held Australia to a 1–1 draw at home, and a 2–2 draw in Melbourne; however, since Iran had scored more away goals, they were able to qualify for the Cup.[14]

At their first game of the Group F at the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Yugoslavia, Iran lost 1–0 to a free kick goal by Siniša Mihajlović.[13] Iran recorded their first World Cup victory in the second game[12] beating the United States 2–1 with Hamid Estili and Mehdi Mahdavikia scoring goals for Iran. The Iran vs USA World Cup match was preheated with certain excitement because of each country's political stance after the Iranian revolution and the Iran hostage crisis. However, in an act of defiance against all forms of hatred or politics in sports, both sides presented one another with gifts and flowers and took ceremonial pictures before the match kickoff.[15] Following defeat against Iran, the United States was eliminated from the World Cup.[16]

Iran played against Germany in the third game. The game was lost 2–0. The goals were scored by Oliver Bierhoff and Jürgen Klinsmann.[17] The one win and two losses meant Iran came third in the final group standing and failed to make it to the next round.[18] (Farhad Majidi and Mehdi Fonounizadeh were some of the absentees in the tournament.)

2000 AFC Asian Cup[edit]

Iran finished first in the group stage of the tournament but lost to South Korea in the quarter-finals.

2002 FIFA World Cup qualification[edit]

Additional information: 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC)

Iran failed to qualify for World Cup 2002 after an aggregate defeat to the Republic of Ireland, losing 2–0 in Dublin and winning 1–0 in Tehran. The elimination saw manager Miroslav Blažević step down from the top spot to be replaced by his assistant Branko Ivanković who stepped up from assistant coach.

2004 AFC Asian Cup[edit]

After qualifying to the Asian Cup 2004, Iran was drawn with Thailand, Oman and Japan in the tournament. Iran finished second in this group. In quarter-final clash against South Korea, Iran won 4–3 in normal time. In the semi-final, Iran lost to the host China on penalty kicks. Iran won against Bahrain 4–2 to finish third place in the tournament.

2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany[edit]

Additional information: 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC)
Additional information: 2006 FIFA World Cup Group D
Iran score against Angola during a 2006 FIFA World Cup match.

On 8 June 2005, Iran together with Japan became the first country to qualify for the 2006 World Cup making it Iran's 3rd appearance on the world stage of football. The qualification round both in 2001 and 2004–05 resulted in celebrations, hysteria and rioting causing internal chaos and unrest between youth and government officials. The Iran versus Japan leg of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers in Tehran played on 24 March 2005 was the highest attended qualifying match among all confederations. The match ended with 5 fans killed and several others injured as they left the Azadi Stadium at the end of the match.[19]

Iran started their 2006 FIFA World Cup appearance with certain expectations from fans and media. Their first match was against Mexico in Group D. The game was level 1–1 at the half-time but Iran lost at the end because of a defensive mistake. The final score, 3–1, was brought about by goals from Omar Bravo and Sinha for Mexico with Yahya Golmohammadi scoring the only Iran goal.

Iran played against Portugal in the second game. The game was lost 2–0. The goals were scored by Deco and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty). The two losses meant Iran was eliminated from the competition before their third and final game against Angola. Iran drew 1–1 with Angola on 21 June 2006, Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh scoring the Iran goal.

Temporary suspension[edit]

Iran's squad in August 2006 against Syria, Manager: Amir Ghalenoei
Standing left to right: Nekounam, Enayati, Nikbakht, Shakouri, Fekri, Sadeghi
Sitting left to right: Taleblou, Madanchi, Khatibi, Teymourian, Mahdavikia

In November 2006, Iran was suspended by FIFA from all participation in international football on the grounds of governmental interference in the national football association.[20] The ban lasted less than a month[21] and as a dispensation was given to allow the Iran under-23 team to participate in the football competition of the 2006 Asian Games,[22] fixtures were unaffected.

2007 AFC Asian Cup[edit]

Additional information: 2007 AFC Asian Cup Group C

IRIFF appointed Amir Ghalenoei as head coach of the Iran national football team on 17 July 2006 to succeed Branko Ivanković. After finishing first in the qualifying round 2 points ahead of South Korea and then finishing first in the group stage of the final tournament in Malaysia, Iran lost to South Korea in a penalty shoot-out of the quarterfinal match and was eliminated from the 2007 Asian Cup. Ghalenoei was criticized by the press. After a period of discussion in the Iranian football federation, his contract was not renewed and Team Melli was left with a caretaker manager for several months.

2010 FIFA World Cup qualification[edit]

Additional information: 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC)

Ali Daei was chosen to become the new coach after Spanish coach Javier Clemente had been closer to signing on as Iran's national team manager but talks collapsed when he refused to live full-time in the country.[23] Iran was in the same FIFA World Cup qualifying group as Kuwait, Syria and United Arab Emirates in the third round. They played home and away against each of the other three teams in group 5. In the middle of the fourth round, Ali Daei was let go from his position as the Iranian national coach on 29 March 2009.[24] He was replaced by Afshin Ghotbi. Iran failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after ranking 4th overall in its group.[25]

2009 political protests[edit]

During the final game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Korea in Seoul on 17 June 2009, seven members of the team, Javad Nekounam, Ali Karimi, Hossein Kaebi, Masoud Shojaei, Mohammad Nosrati, Vahid Hashemian and captain Mehdi Mahdavikia wore green wristbands in support of the Iranian Green Movement during the 2009 Iranian election protests. Initial rumors and false reports were that all seven players were banned for life by the Iranian Football Federation, however, state-run media claimed that all seven had "retired".[26][27] On 24 June 2009, FIFA wrote to Iran's Football Federation asking for clarification on the situation. The Iranian Football Federation replied that no disciplinary action has been taken against any player.[28] As of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, some of the above players have played again for the national team notably Javad Nekounam, Masoud Shojaei, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Ali Karimi.

2011 AFC Asian Cup[edit]

Additional information: 2011 AFC Asian Cup Group D
Iran's squad in July 2011 against Maldives, Manager: Carlos Queiroz
Standing left to right: Aghili, Hosseini, Haddadifar, Ansarifard, Zare, Pooladi
Sitting left to right: Heydari, Norouzi, Rahmati, Khalatbari, Karimi

Iran renewed the contract with Afshin Ghotbi until the end of 2011 AFC Asian Cup and the team qualified to the tournament with 13 points as the group winners.

During the final qualification match against South Korea, several Iranian players started the match wearing green armbands or wristbands, a symbol of protest at the outcome of the Iranian presidential election.[29] Most removed them at half-time. The newspaper Iran reported that Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Hosein Kaebi and Vahid Hashemian had received life bans from the Iranian FA for the gesture.[30] However, the Iranian FA denied this claim in a response to FIFA's inquiry saying that "the comments in foreign media are nothing but lies and a mischievous act."[31] Head coach Afshin Ghotbi also confirmed that it was a rumour and Iranian FA "has not taken any official stand on this issue."[32]

Afshin Ghotbi was able to qualify for 2011 Asian Cup and finished second in West Asian Football Federation Championship 2010 just a few months before the 2011 Asian Cup. Iran was able to gain all nine points in the group stage of the 2011 Asian Cup but after an extra time goal from South Korea, Iran was yet again unable to get to the semifinals of the competition.

2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil[edit]

Qualification[edit]

On 4 April 2011, former Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz agreed to a two-and-a-half-year deal to coach the Iranian national team until the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.[33] Under Queiroz, Iran began their World Cup qualification campaign successfully defeating the Maldives 4–0 in the first leg of their second round of qualifiers. After winning 5–0 on aggregate, Iran advanced to the third round of qualifiers where they were drawn with Indonesia, Qatar and Bahrain. Iran highlighted their position at the top of their group by defeating Bahrain 6–0 at home in the Azadi Stadium as well as inviting former German youth international Ashkan Dejagah who scored twice on his debut against Qatar. After a 4–1 win at Indonesia, Iran qualified for the final round of direct qualifiers, the fourth round. In the fourth round, Iran was drawn with South Korea, Qatar, Uzbekistan and Lebanon in their group. Queiroz made new foreign-based additions to his squad, adding players such as Reza Ghoochannejhad to his team. Iran started their fourth round of Asian qualifiers with a 1–0 win in Uzbekistan. Team Melli then drew Qatar and lost in Lebanon before defeating South Korea at the Azadi on 16 October with a goal from captain Javad Nekounam. After a 1–0 loss in Tehran against Uzbekistan, Iran defeated Qatar 1–0 in Doha and Lebanon 4–0 at home. In their last qualification match, Iran defeated South Korea 1–0 in Ulsan Munsu with a goal from Ghoochannejhad resulting in their qualification to the 2014 FIFA World Cup as group winners with 16 points. Thus, Iran became the third team that Queiroz has managed to qualify for the World Cup, having reached the 2002 edition with South Africa and the 2010 edition with Portugal, leading the latter to a knockout stage finish. Iran continued their winning streak, securing qualification to the 2015 Asian Cup months later as well.[34]

Foreign-based call-ups[edit]

Since Queiroz's role as manager of the Iranian national team, he has been renowned for introducing players from the Iranian diaspora to the national squad. These players include German-Iranians Daniel Davari and Ashkan Dejagah, Dutch-Iranian Reza Ghoochannejhad, Swedish-Iranians Omid Nazari and Saman Ghoddos, and Iranian-American Steven Beitashour among others.[35][36]

Finals[edit]

Additional information: 2014 FIFA World Cup – Group F

Iran qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup as group winners and competed in Group F alongside Argentina, Nigeria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sold out Argentina match tickets were among the eight most purchased for this edition of the tournament.[37] On 1 June 2014, Queiroz announced his 23-man squad.[38] Prior to the tournament, they founded the Central Asian Football Association.[39]

In the opening match of the tournament on 16 June, Iran drew Nigeria 0–0 making it their first clean sheet of the FIFA World Cup.[40] In their next match, Iran was defeated by Argentina 1–0 with a late goal from Lionel Messi and received praise after holding Argentina for 90 minutes while creating some attacking opportunities of their own.[41] Iran was eliminated from the tournament in their next game, a 3–1 defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Iran's lone goal was scored by Reza Ghoochannejhad.[42] After the tournament, Queiroz declared he would resign as manager of Iran but later switched and extended his contract until the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[43]

2015 AFC Asian Cup[edit]

Additional information: 2015 AFC Asian Cup Group C

Iran qualified for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup as group winners where Team Melli were the highest ranked seed.[44] Iran faced Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE in Group C. Queiroz announced his squad on 30 December 2014.[45]

With the second highest number of fans in the tournament after hosts Australia, the Iranians defeated Bahrain 2–0 with limited preparations.[46][47] A defensive minded Iran then defeated Qatar 1–0 thanks to a Sardar Azmoun goal before defeating UAE by the same scoreline to reach the top of their group.[48][49]

In the quarter-finals Iran faced Iraq who they had beaten weeks prior in a friendly match. Having received a controversial red card in the first half, Iran competed with ten men, managing to score goals late in extra time to draw the match 3–3. In the ensuing penalty shootout, Iran lost 7–6 in sudden death.[50][51]

2018 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Additional information: 2018 FIFA World Cup Group B
Iran's squad in October 2016 against South Korea
Iran's squad against Portugal in Mordovia Arena at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Iran began their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign with friendly matches against Chile and Sweden in March 2015.[52][53][54] Queiroz resigned from his managerial post thereafter due to disagreements with the Iranian Football Federation.[55] On 14 April 2015, Iran were drawn with Oman, India, Turkmenistan and Guam in the second round of qualifiers.[56] On 26 April, Queiroz announced that he would continue as the manager of Iran for their 2018 World Cup campaign.

Iran became the second team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup[57] after a 2–0 win at home over Uzbekistan on 12 June 2017.[58] They also clinched 1st place in their qualification group after South Korea's defeat to Qatar.[59]

Iran won the first match against Morocco after Aziz Bouhaddouz scoring an own goal.[60] The second match Iran lost against Spain with a goal scored by Diego Costa.[61] The third match against Portugal ended in a draw after the penalty scored by Karim Ansarifard[62] and because Morocco could only manage a 2–2 draw to Spain, Iran was eliminated.[63] However, this has become Iran's best performance in the World Cup to date, when they achieved four points.

2019 AFC Asian Cup[edit]

Additional information: 2019 AFC Asian Cup Group D

Having qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup earlier, Iran was drawn into group D, where they shared fate with Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen, the two latter was the first time Iran faced up. Iran opened their tournament against Yemen slower and almost conceded a goal but after 10 minutes, Iran regained the ground and proved more dominant in certain aspects, thrashing Yemen 5–0.[64] A 2–0 win over the Vietnamese side gave Iran direct qualification to the knockout stage.[65] Iran ended their group stage with a goalless draw over neighbor Iraq and took the first place of the group.[66] After the group stage, Iran encountered Oman, a defending mistake almost cost Iran's chance but Ahmed Mubarak Al-Mahaijri's penalty was saved by Alireza Beiranvand. After the early scare, Iran once again proved its dominance over Oman, beating Oman 2–0 to reach the last eight.[67] In the quarter-finals against a defensive China, Iran outclassed the Chinese 3–0 to meet Japan in the semi-finals.[68] Iran missed the opportunity to reach the final once again when they fell 0–3 with all goals scored in second half.[69] Following the elimination, Carlos Queiroz announced he would resign as coach of Iran.

2022 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Iran was the highest-ranked team to be seeded in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification and immediately, Iran was drawn into the second round where they would have to deal with two Arab rivals, Iraq and Bahrain, along with Cambodia and Hong Kong. Iran, under new manager Marc Wilmots, began with an 2–0 win over Hong Kong away; before creating the 14–0 win over Cambodia, the latter game was historic as women were allowed to enter to the stadium.[70][71] Their next away encounters against Arab opponents Bahrain and Iraq went on to be consecutive defeats with Iran lost 0–1 and 1–2, respectively.[72][73] Following with two consecutive draws between Iraq and Bahrain, Iran was left with the possibility of losing any chance to reach the World Cup right in the second round and this led to the sacking of Marc Wilmots as coach.[74]

Team image[edit]

Nicknames[edit]

The Iranian national team has received several nicknames by supporters and media. The most common one used is "Team Melli" which literally means "The National Team" in Persian language. Although the Iranian supporters have popularized "Team Melli", other nicknames for the team include "Persian Stars"[75][76][77] (entitled since the World Cup 2006) "Shiran e Iran",[78][79] meaning "The Iranian Lions" or "The Lions of Persia",[80] "Shirdelan", "Lion Hearts" and "Princes of Persia"[81][82] (used since AFC Asian Cup 2011)[83][84] have been used in media as well.[citation needed] Iran's slogan for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was Honour of Persia, selected in an internet poll held by FIFA.[85][86] A more recently used nickname, due to the presence of the Asiatic cheetah on the 2014 World Cup jersey, is Youzpalangan which means 'The Cheetahs' (Persian: یوزپلنگان).[87]

Kits and crests[edit]

The Iran national football team's kit traditionally utilizes white.

Kit suppliers[edit]

The table below shows the history of kit supplier for the Iranian national football team.

Kit supplier Period Notes
Germany Adidas 1978
Germany Puma[88] 1980
Iran Amini[89] 1981–1993
Iran Shekari 1993–1998
Germany Puma 1998–2000
Iran Shekari 2000–2003
Iran Daei Sport 2003–2006
Germany Puma 2006–2007
Iran Merooj 2007–2008
Iran Daei Sport 2008–2009
Italy Legea 2009–2012
Germany Uhlsport 2012–2016
Italy Givova[90] 2016
Germany Adidas[91] 2016–2019
Germany Uhlsport 2019–present

Sponsorship[edit]

Primary sponsors include Adidas, Bank Pasargad, 9090, Golrang, Oila and Kaspid.[92]

On 1 February 2014, Iran announced the addition of the endangered Asiatic cheetah on their 2014 FIFA World Cup kits in order to bring attention to its conservation efforts.[87]

Rivalries[edit]

South Korea[edit]

Iran and South Korea are sporting rivals[93][94] and have played against each other officially since 1958, totally 29 matches as of October 2016, including eight World Cup qualifiers. These two teams were among the strongest Asian national football teams (in a specific aspect) during the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, the teams have developed one of Asia's greatest rivalries.[95] Although the teams only had one chance to play against each other in the final match of the AFC Asian Cup in 1972, they faced each other five consecutive times at the quarterfinals stage from 1996–2011.[96][97] Iran leads the series with 13 wins, 7 draws and 9 losses.

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Iran and Saudi Arabia are rivals.[98] The game has been ranked 9th in Bleacher Report's "International Football's 10 Most Politically-Charged Football Rivalries"[99] and 8th in Goal.com's "Football's 10 Greatest International Rivalries".[100]

Iran and Saudi Arabia have had 15 matches so far. All of their matches have been competitive and they have never played a friendly match. The first match was played on 24 August 1975, with Iran defeating Saudi Arabia 3–0. Iran leads the series with 5 wins, 6 draws and 4 losses.

Iraq[edit]

According to the Malay Mail, "Emotions are always high when Iran and Iraq meet on the football pitch". The rivalry is not such a football-inspired ill-feeling between the two but more of geography, religion and history. Iran and Iraq are neighboring countries, sharing a history. In the contemporary era, especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein, the two countries had worsened relations and fought the Iran–Iraq War for 8 years.[101][102][103][104][105] In 2001, for the first time in decades, an Iran-Iraq match was not held at a neutral venue.[103] The rivalry was escalated after Iraq knocked Iran out of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in controversial circumstances; Iran lodged a complaint to the AFC that one of Iraq's players had submitted a positive doping test months before, hoping to see Iraq removed from the tournament and themselves reinstated in their place,[106] but the complaint was rejected.[107] Iran leads the series with 12 wins, 6 draws and 6 losses.[108]

Stadiums[edit]

Azadi Stadium, the home stadium of the team.

Since 1972, Iran's national stadium is Tehran's Azadi Stadium with a nominal capacity of 78,116 spectators.[109] Azadi Stadium is the 28th largest association football stadium in the world, 7th in Asia and 1st in West Asia. A record was set in Azadi for the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Australia with over 128,000 in attendance.[110] The government restricts Iranian women from entering the stadiums.[111] However, FIFA condemned the move and wrote to Iranian Football Federation in June 2019. The federation in their letter gave deadline to uplift the restrictions and let women enter the stadiums. On 25 August 2019, deputy Sports Minister Jamshid Taghizadeh stated: "Women can go to Tehran’s Azadi stadium to watch the match between Iran’s national team and Cambodia in October for the Qatar World Cup qualifier.”[112]

From 1942 to 1972, Amjadieh Stadium was Iran's national stadium. The other stadiums that Iran has been played international games are Takhti and Yadegar Emam Stadium (Tabriz), Takhti Stadium (Tehran), Enghelab Stadium (Karaj), Hafezieh Stadium (Shiraz) and Takhti Stadium (Mashhad).

The Iran National Football Camp is the team's training ground.

Results and fixtures[edit]

Matches[edit]

The following is a list of match results in the last 12 months, as well as any future matches that have been scheduled.

Previous[edit]

  Win   Draw   Loss

Date Venue Opponent Competition Result Iranian scorers Captain
2020
8 October 2020 Uzbekistan Pakhtakor Central Stadium, Tashkent  Uzbekistan Friendly 2–1 W Azmoun Goal 44'
Taremi Goal 51'
Hajsafi
12 November 2020 Bosnia and Herzegovina Koševo City Stadium, Sarajevo  Bosnia and Herzegovina Friendly 2–0 W Rezaei Goal 46'
Ghayedi Goal 90+1'
Hajsafi
2021
30 March 2021 Iran Azadi Stadium, Tehran  Syria Friendly 3–0 W Kanaanizadegan Goal 6'
Azmoun Goal 38'
Ansarifard Goal 72'
Hajsafi
3 June 2021 Bahrain Al Muharraq Stadium, Arad  Hong Kong 2022 WC qualification and 2023 AC qualification 3–1 W Gholizadeh Goal 23'
Amiri Goal 61'
Ansarifard Goal 84'
Jahanbakhsh
7 June 2021 Bahrain Bahrain National Stadium, Riffa  Bahrain 2022 WC qualification and 2023 AC qualification 3–0 W Azmoun Goal 54'61'
Taremi Goal 79'
Hajsafi
11 June 2021 Bahrain Bahrain National Stadium, Riffa  Cambodia 2022 WC qualification and 2023 AC qualification 10–0 W Jahanbakhsh Goal 16' (pen.)
Khalilzadeh Goal 22'
Taremi Goal 27'
Sor Rotana Goal 32' (o.g.)
Mohammadi Goal 58'
Pouraliganji Goal 64'
Ansarifard Goal 77' (pen.)
Rezaei Goal 80'87'
Ghayedi Goal 84'
Jahanbakhsh
15 June 2021 Bahrain Al Muharraq Stadium, Arad  Iraq 2022 WC qualification and 2023 AC qualification 1–0 W Azmoun Goal 35' Hajsafi

Forthcoming[edit]

Date Competition Venue Opponent
2021
*FIFA International match days 2018–2024[113]
§AFC Calendar of Competitions 2019[114]

Coaching staff[edit]

Dragan Skočić is the current Head Coach of the team.
Head Coach Croatia Dragan Skočić
Assistant Coaches Iran Vahid Hashemian
Iran Karim Bagheri
Croatia Marijo Tot
Goalkeeping Coach Croatia Mladen Žganjer
Fitness Coach Spain Gómez Perlado
Analyst Iran Mehdi Hosseinpour
Physiotherapist Iran Dr. Alireza Shahab
Team Doctor Iran Dr. Parhan Khanlari
Masseurs Iran Hadi Nejatpour
Iran Amir Esmaeili
Translator Iran Hamidreza Hedayati
Logistics Manager Iran Tooraj Keshavarz
Team Manager Iran Mehdi Kharati

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following 23 players have been called up for 2022 WC qualification and 2023 AC qualification against  Iraq on 15 June 2021.
Caps and goals correct as of 15 June 2021, after the match against  Iraq.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Alireza Beiranvand (1992-09-12) 12 September 1992 (age 28) 44 0 Belgium Antwerp
12 1GK Payam Niazmand (1995-04-06) 6 April 1995 (age 26) 1 0 Iran Sepahan
22 1GK Amir Abedzadeh (1993-04-26) 26 April 1993 (age 28) 5 0 Portugal Marítimo

2 2DF Sadegh Moharrami (1996-03-24) 24 March 1996 (age 25) 10 0 Croatia Dinamo Zagreb
4 2DF Shojae Khalilzadeh (1989-05-31) 31 May 1989 (age 32) 12 1 Qatar Al-Rayyan
5 2DF Milad Mohammadi (1993-09-29) 29 September 1993 (age 27) 41 1 Belgium Gent
8 2DF Morteza Pouraliganji (1992-04-19) 19 April 1992 (age 29) 44 3 China Shenzhen
13 2DF Hossein Kanaanizadegan (1994-03-23) 23 March 1994 (age 27) 22 2 Iran Persepolis
17 2DF Jafar Salmani (1997-01-12) 12 January 1997 (age 24) 1 0 Portugal Portimonense
19 2DF Majid Hosseini (1996-06-20) 20 June 1996 (age 25) 14 0 Turkey Trabzonspor

3 3MF Ehsan Hajsafi (Captain) (1990-02-25) 25 February 1990 (age 31) 115 6 Iran Sepahan
6 3MF Saeid Ezatolahi (1996-10-01) 1 October 1996 (age 24) 35 1 Denmark Vejle
7 3MF Alireza Jahanbakhsh (1993-08-11) 11 August 1993 (age 27) 53 8 England Brighton & Hove Albion
11 3MF Milad Sarlak (1995-03-26) 26 March 1995 (age 26) 2 0 Iran Persepolis
14 3MF Saman Ghoddos (1993-09-06) 6 September 1993 (age 27) 26 2 England Brentford
15 3MF Ahmad Nourollahi (1993-01-02) 2 January 1993 (age 28) 14 2 Iran Persepolis
16 3MF Mehdi Torabi (1994-09-10) 10 September 1994 (age 26) 32 6 Iran Persepolis
18 3MF Ali Gholizadeh (1996-03-10) 10 March 1996 (age 25) 13 4 Belgium Charleroi

9 4FW Mehdi Taremi (1992-07-18) 18 July 1992 (age 28) 51 24 Portugal Porto
10 4FW Karim Ansarifard (1990-04-03) 3 April 1990 (age 31) 85 29 Greece AEK Athens
20 4FW Sardar Azmoun (1995-01-01) 1 January 1995 (age 26) 55 37 Russia Zenit Saint Petersburg
21 4FW Kaveh Rezaei (1992-04-05) 5 April 1992 (age 29) 17 4 Belgium Charleroi
23 4FW Mehdi Ghayedi (1998-12-05) 5 December 1998 (age 22) 5 2 Iran Esteghlal

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following players have been called up for the team in the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Mohammad Reza Akhbari (1993-02-15) 15 February 1993 (age 28) 1 0 Iran Tractor v.  Cambodia, 11 June 2021
GK Hamed Lak (1990-11-24) 24 November 1990 (age 30) 3 0 Iran Persepolis v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
GK Rashid Mazaheri (1989-05-18) 18 May 1989 (age 32) 3 0 Iran Esteghlal v.  Syria, 30 March 2021 PRE

DF Siamak Nemati (1994-04-17) 17 April 1994 (age 27) 3 0 Iran Persepolis v.  Cambodia, 11 June 2021
DF Danial Esmaeilifar (1993-02-26) 26 February 1993 (age 28) 0 0 Iran Sepahan v.  Cambodia, 11 June 2021
DF Aref Gholami (1997-04-23) 23 April 1997 (age 24) 0 0 Iran Esteghlal v.  Cambodia, 11 June 2021
DF Abolfazl Jalali (1998-06-26) 26 June 1998 (age 22) 1 0 Iran Saipa v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
DF Aref Aghasi (1997-01-02) 2 January 1997 (age 24) 0 0 Iran Foolad v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
DF Mehdi Tikdari (1996-06-13) 13 June 1996 (age 25) 0 0 Iran Tractor v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
DF Mehdi Shiri (1991-01-31) 31 January 1991 (age 30) 0 0 Iran Persepolis v.  Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12 November 2020
DF Mojtaba Najjarian (1998-02-15) 15 February 1998 (age 23) 0 0 Iran Foolad v.  Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12 November 2020 PRE

MF Vahid Amiri (1988-04-02) 2 April 1988 (age 33) 57 2 Iran Persepolis v.  Bahrain, 7 June 2021 INJ
MF Kamal Kamyabinia (1989-01-18) 18 January 1989 (age 32) 5 1 Iran Persepolis v.  Hong Kong, 3 June 2021
MF Omid Ebrahimi (1987-09-16) 16 September 1987 (age 33) 52 0 Qatar Al-Ahli v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
MF Ali Karimi (1994-02-11) 11 February 1994 (age 27) 13 0 Qatar Al-Duhail v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
MF Omid Noorafkan (1997-04-09) 9 April 1997 (age 24) 4 0 Iran Sepahan v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
MF Akbar Imani (1992-03-21) 21 March 1992 (age 29) 3 0 Iran Tractor v.  Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12 November 2020

FW Allahyar Sayyadmanesh (2001-06-29) 29 June 2001 (age 19) 2 1 Ukraine Zorya Luhansk v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
FW Sajjad Shahbazzadeh (1990-01-23) 23 January 1990 (age 31) 0 0 Iran Sepahan v.  Syria, 30 March 2021
FW Sasan Ansari (1991-05-04) 4 May 1991 (age 30) 0 0 Iran Foolad v.  Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12 November 2020 PRE

INJ Withdrew due to injury
PRE Preliminary squad / standby
RET Retired from the national team
SUS Serving suspension
WD Player withdrew from the squad due to non-injury issue.

Player records[edit]

Javad Nekounam is one of the most capped players in the history of Iran with 148 caps.
Iranian iconic goalkeeper Ahmadreza Abedzadeh is the most capped goalkeeper in the history of Iran with 79 caps.
As of 15 June 2021[115]
Players in bold are still active with Iran.

Most capped players[edit]

Ali Karimi, Maradona of Asia with 127 caps and 38 goals.
Rank Name Caps Goals Career
1 Ali Daei 148[116][117] 109 1993–2006
2 Javad Nekounam 148[117][116] 39 2000–2015
3 Ali Karimi 127[117] 38 1998–2012
4 Jalal Hosseini 115 8 2007–2018
Ehsan Hajsafi 115 6 2008–
6 Mehdi Mahdavikia 111 13 1996–2009
7 Andranik Teymourian 101 9 2005–2016
8 Karim Bagheri 87 50 1993–2010
Masoud Shojaei 8 2004–2019
10 Hossein Kaebi 85 1 2002–2010
Karim Ansarifard 85 29 2009–

Most capped goalkeepers[edit]

Rank Name Caps Career
1 Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh 79 1987–1998
2 Mehdi Rahmati 77 2004–2012
3 Ebrahim Mirzapour 71 2001–2011
4 Nasser Hejazi[118] 62 1968–1980
5 Alireza Beiranvand 44 2014–

Top goalscorers[edit]

Ali Daei is the world's all-time leading goalscorer in international matches, having scored 109 goals in 149 matches
Karim Bagheri is the world's most scoring midfielder of all-time with 50 goals in 87 matches.
Mehdi Mahdavikia is the all-time assist leader in history of Team Melli.
Rank Player Goals Caps Ratio Career
1 Ali Daei (list) 109 148 0.74 1993–2006
2 Karim Bagheri 50 87 0.57 1993–2010
3 Javad Nekounam 39 148 0.26 2000–2015
4 Ali Karimi 38 127 0.3 1998–2012
5 Sardar Azmoun 37 55 0.67 2014–
6 Karim Ansarifard 29 85 0.34 2009–
7 Mehdi Taremi 24 51 0.47 2015–
8 Gholam Hossein Mazloumi 19 40 0.48 1969–1977
9 Farshad Pious[119] 18 34 0.53 1984–1994
Ali Asghar Modir Roosta 32 0.56 1990–1998

Competition records[edit]

World Cup[edit]

World Cup finals World Cup qualifications
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad GP W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Not a FIFA member No qualification
Italy 1934 Not a FIFA member
France 1938
Brazil 1950 Did not enter Did not enter
Switzerland 1954
Sweden 1958
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974 Did not qualify 8 5 1 2 9 6
Argentina 1978 Round 1 14th 3 0 1 2 2 8 Squad 12 10 2 0 20 3
Spain 1982 Withdrew Withdrew
Mexico 1986 Disqualified Disqualified
Italy 1990 Did not qualify 6 5 0 1 12 5
United States 1994 11 5 3 3 23 13
France 1998 Group stage 20th 3 1 0 2 2 4 Squad 17 8 6 3 57 17
South KoreaJapan 2002 Did not qualify 14 9 3 2 36 9
Germany 2006 Group stage 25th 3 0 1 2 2 6 Squad 12 9 1 2 29 7
South Africa 2010 Did not qualify 14 5 8 1 15 9
Brazil 2014 Group stage 28th 3 0 1 2 1 4 Squad 16 10 4 2 30 7
Russia 2018 Group stage 18th 3 1 1 1 2 2 Squad 18 12 6 0 36 5
Qatar 2022 To be determined 8 6 0 2 34 4
CanadaMexicoUnited States 2026 To be determined
Total Round 1 5/21 15 2 4 9 9 24 136 84 34 18 301 85

Olympic Games[edit]

Summer Olympic Games Record Qualifications record
Year Result Position Pld W D L GF GA Squad Pld W D L GF GA
19081960 Did not enter Did not enter
Japan 1964 Group Stage 12th 3 0 1 2 1 6 Squad 6 4 1 1 14 3
Mexico 1968 Did not enter Did not enter
West Germany 1972 Group Stage 12th 3 1 0 2 1 9 Squad 5 3 2 0 6 0
Canada 1976 Quarter-finals 7th 3 1 0 2 4 5 Squad 4 3 1 0 8 1
Soviet Union 1980 Boycotted the event 5 3 2 0 18 2
United States 1984 Did not enter
South Korea 1988 Did not qualify 2 1 0 1 2 2
1992–present See Iran national under-23 team See Iran national under-23 team
Total Quarter-finals 4 / 17 9 2 1 6 6 20 22 14 6 2 48 8

Asian Cup[edit]

AFC Asian Cup finals AFC Asian Cup qualifications
Year Result Position GP W D L GF GA Squad GP W D L GF GA
Hong Kong 1956 Withdrew Withdrew
South Korea 1960 Did not qualify 6 3 1 2 12 10
Israel 1964 Withdrew Withdrew
Iran 1968 Champions 1st 4 4 0 0 11 2 Squad Automatic qualification as hosts
Thailand 1972 Champions 1st 5 5 0 0 12 4 Squad Automatic qualification as champions
Iran 1976 Champions 1st 4 4 0 0 13 0 Squad Automatic qualification as hosts
Kuwait 1980 Third place 3rd 6 3 2 1 16 6 Squad Automatic qualification as champions
Singapore 1984 Fourth place 4th 6 2 4 0 8 3 Squad 5 5 0 0 21 2
Qatar 1988 Third place 3rd 6 2 2 2 3 4 Squad 4 2 2 0 6 1
Japan 1992 Round 1 5th 3 1 1 1 2 1 Squad 2 2 0 0 10 0
United Arab Emirates 1996 Third place 3rd 6 3 2 1 14 6 Squad 6 6 0 0 27 1
Lebanon 2000 Quarterfinals 5th 4 2 1 1 7 3 Squad 6 4 1 1 16 2
China 2004 Third place 3rd 6 3 3 0 14 8 Squad 6 5 0 1 16 5
IndonesiaMalaysiaThailandVietnam 2007 Quarterfinals 5th 4 2 2 0 6 3 Squad 6 4 2 0 12 2
Qatar 2011 Quarterfinals 5th 4 3 0 1 6 2 Squad 6 4 1 1 11 2
Australia 2015 Quarterfinals 6th 4 3 1 0 7 3 Squad 6 5 1 0 18 5
United Arab Emirates 2019 Semifinals 3rd 6 4 1 1 12 3 Squad 8 6 2 0 26 3
China 2023 Qualified 8 6 0 2 34 4
Total 3 titles 15/18 68 41 19 8 131 48 69 52 10 7 209 37

Asian Games[edit]

Host nation(s) / year Round Position Pld W D L GS GA Dif Pts Squad
India 1951 Runners-up 2nd 3 2 0 1 2 1 1 6 Squad
Philippines 1954 Did not enter
Japan 1958 Round 1 14th 2 0 0 2 0 9 9 0 Squad
Indonesia 1962 Did not enter
Thailand 1966 Runners-up 2nd 7 4 0 3 9 6 3 12 Squad
Thailand 1970 Round 1 8th 2 0 1 1 2 3 1 1 Squad
Iran 1974 Champions 1st 7 7 0 0 20 1 19 21 Squad
Thailand 1978 Withdrew
India 1982 Quarterfinals 8th 4 2 0 2 3 2 1 6 Squad
South Korea 1986 Quarterfinals 6th 5 3 1 1 13 2 11 10 Squad
China 1990 Champions 1st 5 4 1 0 7 1 6 13 Squad
Japan 1994 Round 1 9th 4 1 2 1 5 2 3 5 Squad
Thailand 1998 Champions 1st 8 7 0 1 25 7 18 21 Squad
2002–present See Iran national under-23 team
Total 3 titles 10/13 47 30 5 12 86 34 +52 95

WAFF Championship[edit]

Host nation(s) / year Round Position Pld W D L GS GA Dif Pts Squad
Jordan 2000 Champions 1st 5 4 1 0 7 1 6 13 Squad
Syria 2002 Third place 3rd 4 1 2 1 4 3 1 5 Squad
Iran 2004 Champions 1st 4 4 0 0 17 3 14 12 Squad
Jordan 2007 Champions1 1st 4 3 1 0 5 1 4 10 Squad
Iran 2008 Champions 1st 4 4 0 0 13 2 11 12 Squad
Jordan 2010 Runners-up 2nd 4 2 1 1 8 5 3 7 Squad
Kuwait 2012 Group Stage 6th 3 1 2 0 2 1 1 5 Squad
Qatar 2014 Did not enter
2019–onwards Not WAFF member
Total 4 Titles 7/9 28 19 7 2 56 16 +40 64
1 Iran played their B team in this tournament

Head-to-head record[edit]

As of 16 June 2021[120]
Opponent GP W D L GF GA GD Win %
All Nations 561 317 136 108 1,071 439 +632 056.51

Iran captains[edit]

As of 16 June 2021[citation needed]
Ehsan Hajsafi is the current Iran National Team captain.
# Reign Player Career Total As Captain Tournaments
Caps Goals Caps Goals
1 1965–1967 Mohammad Ranjbar 1959–1967 23 0 9 0
2 1967–1970 Hassan Habibi 1958–1970 31 0 10 0 1968 AFC Asian Cup
3 1970–1972 Mostafa Arab 1959–1972 48 2 13 0 1972 AFC Asian Cup
4 1972–1977 Parviz Ghelichkhani 1964–1977 64 12 26 7 1976 AFC Asian Cup
5 1977–1980 Ali Parvin 1970–1980 76 13 31 2 1978 FIFA World Cup
6 1980 Nasser Hejazi 1968–1980 62 0 7 0 1980 AFC Asian Cup
7 1980–1984 Mehdi Dinvarzadeh 1977–1984 26 0 9 0
8 1984–87
1989–91
Mohammad Panjali 1978–1991 45 0 27 0 1984 AFC Asian Cup
9 1987–89
1991–93
Sirous Ghayeghran 1986–1993 43 6 22 3 1988 AFC Asian Cup
1992 AFC Asian Cup
10 1993 Hamid Derakhshan 1980–1993 41 9 12 3
11 1993–1994 Farshad Pious 1984–1994 35 19 4 1
12 1996 Mojtaba Moharrami 1988–1996 37 5 2 0 1996 AFC Asian Cup
13 1996–1998 Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh 1988–1998 79 0 38 0 1998 FIFA World Cup
14 1998–1999 Nader Mohammadkhani 1988–1999 64 4 9 1 1998 FIFA World Cup
15 1999–2000 Javad Zarincheh 1987–2000 80 1 8 0
16 2000–2006 Ali Daei 1993–2006 149 109 80 44 2000 AFC Asian Cup
2004 AFC Asian Cup
2006 FIFA World Cup
17 2006–2009 Mehdi Mahdavikia 1996–2009 111 13 17 1 2007 AFC Asian Cup
18 2009–2015 Javad Nekounam 2000–2015 151 39 56 18 2011 AFC Asian Cup
2014 FIFA World Cup
2015 AFC Asian Cup
19 2015–2016 Andranik Teymourian 2005–2016 101 9 8 1
20 2016–2019 Masoud Shojaei 2004–2019 87 8 10 0 2018 FIFA World Cup
21 Ashkan Dejagah 2012–2019 59 11 18 5 2019 AFC Asian Cup
22 2016– Ehsan Hajsafi 2008– 114 6 21 2 2018 FIFA World Cup

Honours[edit]

Iran's squad against South Korea in 1978 World Cup qualification, Tehran, 11 November 1977

Summary[edit]

Event Gold Silver Bronze Total
Asian Cup 3 0 5 8
Asian Games 3 2 0 5
West Asian Championship 4 1 1 6
West Asian Games 1 1 1 3
ECO Cup 3 3 0 6
LG Cup 3 0 3 6
Minor Tournament 5 6 4 15
AFC–OFC Challenge Cup 1 0 0 1
Afro-Asian Cup of Nations 0 1 0 1
Total 22 14 15 51

Continental[edit]

Champions: 1968, 1972, 1976
Third place: 1980, 1988, 1996, 2004, 2019
Fourth place: 1984
1st place, gold medalist(s) Gold Medal: 1974, 1990, 1998
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Silver Medal: 1951, 1966

Regional[edit]

Champions: 2000, 2004, 2007*, 2008
Runners-up: 2010
Third place: 2002
Champions: 1965, 1970, 1993
Runners-up: 1967, 1969, 1974

* as B Team

Intercontinental[edit]

Champions: 2003
Runners-up: 1991

Minor Tournament (Friendly)[edit]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
1964 Israel 
Asian Champions
1968 (first title)
1972 (second title)
1976 (third title)
Succeeded by
1980 Kuwait 
Preceded by

Myanmar

South Korea
Asian Games Champions
1974 (first title)
Succeeded by

North Korea

South Korea
Preceded by
South Korea 
Asian Games Champions
1990 (second title)
Succeeded by

Uzbekistan
Preceded by
Uzbekistan 
Asian Games Champions
1998 (third title)
2002 (fourth title)
Succeeded by

Qatar
Preceded by
Inaugural champions
WAFF Champions
2000(first title)
Succeeded by
2002  Iraq
Preceded by
2002  Iraq
WAFF Champions
2004 (second title)
2007 (third title)
2008 (fourth title)
Succeeded by
2010  Kuwait