2022 WCQ: Iran Focuses on Clinching Top Spot in Match against Lebanon

2022 WCQ: Iran Focuses on Clinching Top Spot in Match against Lebanon

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Lebanon will look to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, while Iran's focus rests on clinching the top spot in Group A when the two sides meet in their final 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier Group A fixture on Tuesday.

Team Melli hasn’t lost a FIFA World Cup Qualifier on home soil since November 2012 and has been similarly difficult to beat there in this campaign, with Son Heung-min the only player in Group A to find the back of the net for a visiting team in Iran.

Dragan Skocic’s side - who qualified for Qatar 2022 weeks ago - will welcome back Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who missed Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Korea Republic due to COVID-19, while Sardar Azmoun is expected to lead the line in the absence of Mehdi Taremi, who also returned a positive test prior to the match in Seoul.

But while the Iranian squad is filled with European-based stars, Lebanon’s biggest task may well be to overcome the disappointment of Thursday’s defeat against Syria.

With a playoff place on offer, the Cedars failed to perform in Saida, slumping to a disastrous 3-0 defeat to a side which had taken just two points from its previous eight matches in Group A.

That result came as a devastating blow, but Iraq’s win over the United Arab Emirates a few hours later meant that Lebanon’s campaign retains a sense, however slight, of final day optimism.

Lebanon has never beaten Team Melli in Iran, but it did famously claim a 1-0 win in a World Cup Qualifier in Beirut back in 2012.

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