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EghtesadOnline: Iran has become the top representative of Asia in the International Federation of Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, Hong-Kong-based news website 'Asia Times' reported.

“Collectively, the challenge is to restore the continent's reputation after the disaster of 2014. Iran is Asia's top team on form but is in a tough group,' Asia Times said.

“For the first time in World Cup history, Asia will have five “horses” in the race when the tournament kicks off in June. Australia, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia are among the 32 nations aiming for glory in Russia,” Asian media said.

“There were 12 games played, three were drawn and the other nine were lost. As an advert for Asian football is was not the best. There is hope that 2018 will be different.”

“In 2014, Iran was the best of a bad bunch and only lost to Argentina courtesy of a last-minute moment of magic from Lionel Messi. Now, Team Melli have not only qualified for successive World Cups for the first time ever but have clearly established themselves as Asia’s team to beat.”

“In the final stages of qualifying, Iran was unbeaten. Not only that, but under their experienced and respected coach, Carlos Queiroz, they conceded just two goals in 10 games. With a solid defense and growing firepower up front, Iran are the continent’s best hope going into their fifth World Cup.”

“Or rather, they were before the draw was made on December 1. Being placed in a group with 2010 World Cup and 2012 European champions Spain and 2016 European champions Portugal is tough. If Iran gets through that to a first-ever appearance in the knockout stages, a football-loving nation will go crazy.”

Iran will play its first game against Morocco on June 15. Iran's second game will be against Spain on June 20 while the Iranian squad is scheduled to play its third game against Portugal.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA.

It is scheduled to take place in Russia from June 14 to July 15, 2018, after the country was awarded the hosting rights on December 2, 2010.


FIFA World Cup Iran soccer