Iran’s biggest star is its coach, Portuguese icon Carlos Queiroz, who led his native country to two under-20 FIFA World Cup titles and helped Team Melli breeze through qualification. Iran has never advanced past the group stage in its four World Cup appearances, however, and if it manages to do so in 2018 it will be a major coup. Iran’s balanced squad features AZ Alkmaar winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh, who led the Dutch top flight in goals this season, and fan favorite Sardar Azmoun, a speedy and powerful forward who is eyeing a transfer out of the Russian Premier League and could be playing in England next fall.
Here, portraits of all 23 players on the 2018 World Cup squad.
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