Several players are based in Europe, with plenty of top-level international experience. Forward Reza Ghoochannejhad was born in the Netherlands and plays in England, while winger Ashkan Dejagah was raised in Germany and spent much of his career in the Bundesliga before moving to Premier League club Fulham. Goalkeeper Daniel Davari was born in Germany and plays in the Bundesliga.
Combined with Javad Nekounam, the team's captain and one its most experienced players, Duerden says that Iran “will need to come together as a team to have any chance of making it out of Group F.”
Here are five players to watch:
- Reza Ghoochannejhad: Dubbed “Gucci,” he plays for Charlton in English second division. He has now scored nine goals in 11 games.
- Javad Nekounam: Long-serving Iran captain, a mainstay of the national team since making his international debut in 2000. He is a midfielder at Al-Kuwait. Has scored 37 goals in 136 international appearances.
- Masoud Shojaei: The attacking midfielder at Las Palmas, famous for unexpected passes and fancy flick.
- Daniel Davari: German-born Eintracht Brauschweig goalkeeper has only three international appearances. But Iran’s coach Carlos Queiroz holds him in high esteem, probably for his European experience. If he can settle with the defense before the World Cup, he could be what Iran need, Duerden says.
- Ashkan Dejagah: Right side main striker, Dejagah came to prominence in Germany with Wolfsburg, making 150 appearances for the Bundesliga team before moving to the Premier League and Fulham in August 2012. Dejagah will have a major part to play for Iran in Brazil.
File photo: Reza Ghoochannejhad (white jersey) in a match against Qatari national team. (AP)