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Iran National Football Team

When you think of footballing countries, Iran probably isn’t the first team that comes to mind. However, they are relatively successful in Asia and have climbed as high as 15th in the FIFA rankings before.

The 1979 revolution in the country caused a decline in enthusiasm for the sport, but football seems to have bounced back stronger than ever in Iran in the 21st century.

Want to see how The Iran National Football Team will do in the Qatar 2022 World Cup? Click the links below to bet on your favourite World Cup matches!

Monday November 21England vs Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 2pm).

Friday November 25Wales vs Iran (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 11am).

Tuesday November 29Iran vs USA (Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 8pm).


Team History

Iran National Football Disjointed Start

As is the case with numerous teams in Asia, an amalgamation of domestic teams’ players represented the country before an official national side was set up. The country got into the sport relatively early for the region, setting up the Iranian football Federation in 1920. It would be six years later until three domestic teams supplied players to represent Iran for something close to an international fixture.

Getting Things in Order

Fans would have to wait until 1941 for the country to play its first official international match. But the wait was worth it, and the Iran National Football Team defeated neighboring Afghanistan in its first match.

Post-war Years

Football initially struggled to take off even after the official international affiliation was made. By the end of the 1960s, however, liberalization in the country started to reap global sporting awards, and Iran National Football, for a time, became the dominant team in the Asian Cup. Their three consecutive successes in 1968, 1972, and 1976 are a period of dominance that the competition has rarely seen in its history.

What makes the success for Iran stranger is the fact that the team hasn’t managed to win the trophy outside of this emphatic eight-year stint.

Taking Things Global

However, the success did start translating to World Cup appearances. In 1978 the country appeared in the World Cup for the first time. Unfortunately, it was knocked out of the group stage without a win.

A Sudden Break

Political events in Iran effectively halted the team’s participation in international competitions throughout the 1980s. However, in 1989 the country established its first proper domestic league. This paved the way for a higher standard of football in the country, and by 1996 the team had started getting back into its groove by achieving third place in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup.

In 1990 the team qualified for the World Cup for only the second time in their history. Their 1-0 defeat of the widely-disliked United States national team in the second group stage game was expected to get heated, but the exchange of gifts before the match was a touching show of sportsmanship on the international stage. Nevertheless, the Iran National Football team ultimately failed to make it out of the group.

The 21st century

Iran qualified for the World Cup in 2006, 2014, and 2018. They also have won 4 WAFF Championships since the turn of the century.

There is no dispute that Iran has taken their game up a level in the modern era, and although they go into the 2022 World Cup as far from favorites, they’re no longer new boys on the scene.

Iran National Football Team Trivia

  • Iran’s record goalscorer Ali Daei is considered a national hero. Until Cristiano Ronaldo broke his record in 2019, no player had scored more international goals in men’s football than Daei’s 109.
  • Iran’s ground holds a staggering 78,116 fans. The Azadi Stadium is the sport’s largest in West Asia and has hosted the final of numerous Asian club competitions. Its record attendance is a mind-blowing 128,000 spectators.

Soccer Iran Leagues