Iran Hopeful of A Longer Stay in Russia
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - The three-time Asian Cup winner is hopeful of a longer stay in Russia for its fanatical support than at any previous World Cup.
Iran secured back-to-back World Cup qualification for the first time in the country's history as Carlos Queiroz and his team sealed the nation's fifth appearance at the finals with relative comfort, Reuters reported.
Iran was the first Asian nation to qualify for Russia 2018 as a miserly defense allied with the striking prowess of Sardar Azmoun saw Team Melli top its group ahead of South Korea to take one of the continent's four automatic berths.
Queiroz has built on the country's performance in Brazil 2014, when it exited in the group phase after encouraging showings against Nigeria, securing a 0-0 draw, and Argentina, with Lionel Messi's injury-time winner denying Iran a point.
The former Real Madrid and Portugal coach, who took over in April 2011, has freshened up his squad over the last four years, with Rubin Kazan's Azmoun the star attraction in a team boasting more Europe-based players than any previous Iran side.
Queiroz has sought to strike a balance between youth and experience, keeping World Cup veterans Ashkan Dejagah and Jalal Hosseini involved as he sets his sights on taking the country into the second round for the first time.