Iran - Qatar Preview: Carlos Queiroz's side keen to improve after fortunate opening victory
Team Melli will be roared on by a big Tehran crowd when they aim to make it two wins from two games, but Paulo Autuori's side will make life difficult for them
By Ben Somerford
Heydari, Aghili, Hosseini, Pooladi
Dejagah, Karimi, Khalatbari
Majid, Al Hamad, Kasola, Al Ghanim
Al Bloushi, Khalfan, Mubarak
Team Melli may have begun their final round World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 victory away to Uzbekistan but the win was fortunate as the performance was ordinary. Coach Carlos Queiroz is expected to make several changes while he's forced to be without defender Pejman Montazeri and attacking midfielder Mojtaba Jabbari who out with injuries. Queiroz is likely to offer starts to last week's matchwinner Mohammad Reza Khalatbari and Karim Ansarifard in attack, while Ali Karimi moves into a more attacking role for Jabbari. Ashkan Dejagah scored a double when these two sides met in February and could be a starter.
Qatar coach Paulo Autuori appears uncertain on his starting line-up for the game, having taken a massive 29-man squad to Tehran. Ghana-born midfielder Lawrence Quaye missed the loss to South Korea due to injury and remains a doubt, while Khaled Muftah and Ibrahim Al Ghanim will battle it out for a start in defence. Autuori may again rely on his attacking trio of Sebastian Soria, Yusuf Ahmed and Khalfan Ibrahim.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Iran drew 2-2 with Qatar when these two sides met in third round qualifying in Tehran, although Team Melli had already sealed their progress at that stage.
- Team Melli failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals, having made the event in 1978, 1998 and 2006.
- Queiroz guided Portugal to the 2010 World Cup, although they never totally convinced, before being eliminated in the Round of 16 by Spain.
- Qatar have produced decent results on the road in recent times, claiming two draws and a win in third round qualifying away from home, while they knocked off Lebanon in Beirut in the final phae opener.
- Paulo Autuori is Qatar's fourth coach since the 2011 Asian Cup with Bruno Metsu, Milovan Rajevac and Sebastiao Lazaroni having departed in the past 18 months.
- Qatar have never qualified for the World Cup finals, but will host the 2022 event.
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Top 3 Predictions
Iran 2-0 Qatar
- 26.12 %
Iran 2-1 Qatar
- 15.53 %
Iran 3-0 Qatar
- 14.82 %
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Jun 4, 2013||Qatar 0 - Iran 1|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Jun 12, 2012||Iran 0 - Qatar 0|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Feb 29, 2012||Iran 2 - Qatar 2|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Sep 6, 2011||Qatar 1 - Iran 1|
|Jun 18, 2013||South Korea 0 - Iran 1||WCQ|
|Jun 11, 2013||Iran 4 - Lebanon 0||WCQ|
|Jun 4, 2013||Qatar 0 - Iran 1||WCQ|
|Mar 26, 2013||Kuwait 1 - Iran 1||ACQ|
|Feb 6, 2013||Iran 5 - Lebanon 0||ACQ|
|Returns:||Iran £44.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Draw £43.30||Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200|
|Returns:||Qatar £260.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|-||Seyed Mahdi Rahmati|
|12||Ali Reza Haghighi||Goalkeeper|
|-||Mohammad Hassan Ebrahimi|
|14||Ibrahim Al Ghanim||Defender|
|15||Talal Al Bloushi||Midfielder|
|-||Khalid Al Zakiba||Defender|
|2||Mesaad Ali Al Hamad||Defender|
The 31-year-old Osasuna midfielder will have a pivotal role in this contest as Iran try to assert their dominance after a poor performance in Tashkent. Nekounam is Iran's class midfielder and the man who needs to set the tone.
The 23-year-old striker's return to the national team following injury has been a major boost to their forward line. The Al Sadd man was on the scoresheet against Albania and South Korea recently.
Iran are always difficult to beat at Azadi Stadium and Carlos Queiroz's current side have looked very strong. However Team Melli battled in Uzbekistan before their fortunate late winner and will need to play more cohesive football against a Qatar side looking to play on the counter and pounce on any errors.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed