FIFA Senior Team Ranking: 32
Nickname: Team Melli Nojavanan (The New Youngsters)
Last official match played: Azerbaijan 0-4 Iran (July 10, 2018)
Coach: Abbas Chamanyan
When it comes to discussions on the football powerhouses in the Asian continent, Iran is one the first names to that springs to mind. Their first unofficial international football match was held against British India at Kabul in 1941 and the Iranians have come a long way since then in the sport.
Nicknamed as Team Melli, Iran has been a prominent player in the FIFA World Cup, having appeared in the global tournament on five different occasions.
They have showed equal pedigree at the continental level with three consecutive Asian Football Confederation (AFC) titles between 1968 and 1976 - a collection they have not been able to add to since then, although they have appeared in every single tournament held since 1968.
At the U16 level, the Iranian team has qualified for the FIFA U17 World Cup on four occasions with an all-time best quarter-final finish in the last edition held in India in 2017.
They are also one-time winners and two-time runners-up at the AFC U16 Championship with the last of the latter coming on Indian soil in 2016. On that instance, the team was pipped on penalties by arch-rivals Iraq in the final and they will be looking to go one step further in their 11th AFC U16 campaign this time around.
ROAD TO MALAYSIA
Coached by Abbas Chamanyan who led the U17 team to a quarter-final finish in the FIFA U17 World Cup in India, Iran will arrive at Malaysia on the back of an impressive qualification campaign.
Drawn alongside tricky opponents such as Afghanistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Lebanon, Iran qualified as the winners of Group C with the perfect record which saw them win all four of their matches.
Having confirmed their spot in Malaysia, the team has been sharpening up for the competition by conducting friendly matches and training camps. In May this year, the Iran U16s along with the U14s participated in the Qatar tri-series where they rubbed shoulders with their Tunisian and Aspire Football Academy counterparts respectively along with the hosts. The U16 team played out draws against their Tunisian and Qatar counterparts.
Following the tournament in Qatar, the team participated in another friendly tri-series tournament in Chian also involving Japan. There, they succumbed to a 0-1 defeat against Japan before thrashing hosts China by 4-1.
In July, the side took on the Azerbaijan U16 outfit in a couple of friendly matches held in Baku.
In the first game, Iran ran out winners by 5-1 over the hosts before following it up with another impressive 4-0 win three days later.
Currently, the team is undergoing a training camp in Italy where they are slated to take on the U16 outfits of AC and Inter Milan in preparatory matches.
|Players To Watch Out For|
Alireza Bavieh: The skipper of the Iran U16 outfit, Bavieh is a versatile midfielder tasked with the job of unlocking opposition defences. Having come up through the youth ranks of Foolad Kuzhestan FC in Iran, the midfielder possesses excellent technical ability and a great vision to go with it. He will be on set piece duty for Iran in the championship, be it a free-kick, penalty or corner. The skipper scored three goals in the qualification campaign including a brace against Bhutan.
Shervin Rezai Valaghouzi: Another midfielder in the Iran team to watch out for is Shervin Rezai. The midfielder can also double up as an attacker and was in fine goal-scoring form in the qualification tournament as he got his name among the goal-scorers in the wins over Bhutan and Kyrgyz Republic.