1. They are known as “Team Melli,” by their fans.
6. Iran’s final qualifying victory came just three days after the election of reform-minded president Hassan Rouhani, with celebrations for both sporting and political success.
7. They have struggled to play many friendlies in preparation for the World Cup.
This has been due to scheduling issues, political conflict, and nuclear-related sanctions diminishing their funding. A preparatory training camp in South Africa was attended by only 11 players, due to conflicts with the Asian Champions League.
9. Their manager is Carlos Queiroz, ex-Manager of Real Madrid and Portugal.
British fans may remember him better from his tenure as Assistant Manager of Man. United, where he was the regular spokesperson for Sir Alex Ferguson during the latter’s seven-year boycott of the BBC.
10. Javad Nekounam has been a key player in qualifying, scoring 6 times in 14 games on the way to Brazil.
Other players in the squad include Ashkan Dejagah of Fulham, and Daniel Davari of Eintracht Braunschweig.
11. The Iranian team were given socks that shrunk in the wash.
“They give us large size socks,” said striker Karim Ansarifard, “and after two days and being washed they shrink to a small size.”
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