11 Things You Need To Know About Iran Before The World Cup

Team Melli!

1. They are known as “Team Melli,” by their fans.

ATTA KENARE/AFP / Getty Images

2. They play in white, but most importantly their shirt is emblazoned with a cheetah.

They are raising awareness of Asiatic cheetahs, which are facing extinction. That makes their shirts pretty much the coolest shirts at the world cup.

3. They’re the highest ranked Asian team in the official FIFA rankings, at 37.

Which is a source of great pride for the country.

4. Iran has never made it out of the group stages at the World Cup, but qualified in 1978, 1998 and 2006.

Their biggest victory was likely eliminating the USA in 1998, after a 2-1 win.

5. The fans of the team are very passionate, with the Azadi Stadium in Tehran regularly selling out its 91,000 capacity.

It’s the third largest football stadium in the world.

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.

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

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.

8. Iran’s best player of all time is Ali Daei, who played 149 matches while scoring 109 times.

He went on become their manager in 2008.

9. Their manager is Carlos Queiroz, ex-Manager of Real Madrid and Portugal.

Amin Mohammed Jamali/Gallo Images / Getty Images

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.

Amin M. Jamali / Getty Images

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.

Mohamed Azakir / Reuters

“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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