2022 WCQ: Iran vs. Syria [Preview]

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Sports Mole РTEHRAN, Syria will kickstart their bid to qualify for their first-ever World Cup on Thursday when they compete against Iran in their opening Group A fixture.

The hosts will welcome them to the Azadi Stadium aiming to continue their five-match winning run as they hope to progress to Qatar next year.

Iran could make history by qualifying out of the group, as it would mark the first time that the nation has successfully progressed to the World Cup for three consecutive tournaments.

The Persian Stars have been involved in the competition five times throughout history, including the 2016 and 2018 events, however, they have never actually reached the knockout stage of the World Cup.

That is something that Iran wants to put right, but first, they must get out of a difficult Group A which also features the likes of South Korea and Iraq.

Dragan Skocic recently agreed to stay in charge of the nation heading into this third round of qualifications for the World Cup, and there is no doubt that he would want to secure progression to the tournament in Qatar next year.

Iran is a team with a lot of confidence at the moment after winning their previous five games in a row and they have managed to do that with real style and flair.

The Persian Stars have kept four clean sheets in that period of time and scored 20 goals, including a resounding 10-0 victory against Cambodia with Sardar Azmoun scoring four goals in that run of games.

Syria is hoping to make footballing history within this tournament as the country has never actually qualified for the World Cup, which is something that they will look to change.

However, they will need to improve on the last time that the two sides met, which was as recently as March in a friendly that saw Iran walk away with a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Despite that loss and the fact they head into this game on the back of a 3-1 defeat to China in their most recent outing, Syria is actually in good form at the moment after winning six of their last eight games.

Team News

Skocic has named a 27-man squad for the upcoming World Cup 2022 qualification games with plenty of experience being brought into the group ahead of the important games.

Azmoun is sure to lead the line for Iran due to his recent impressive performances for the team, while Milad Sarlak could find himself earning a place in the starting lineup as well after featuring from the bench against Iraq.

This fixture will mark the first time that Nizar Mahrous has been in charge of Syria after he was brought in as head coach specifically for the World Cup 2022 qualification process.

Because of that, there could be changes from the normal starting lineup as he looks to put his own fingerprints onto the team, but talisman Mardik Mardikian is expected to be the focal point of the attack.

Iran possible starting lineup:
Beiranvand; Moharrami, Khalilzadeh, Kanaanizadegan, Hardani; Sarlak, Karimi, Gholizadeh, Mohammadi; Azmoun, Ghayedi

Syria possible starting lineup:
Mosa; Mohammad, Arnaout, Kerdagli, Al Hamawi; Krouma, Amin, Hmeisheh, Al Salama, Rihanieh; Mardikian

Prediction: Iran 2-0 Syria

Both Iran and Syria have a lot of momentum behind them right now and each squad has proven themselves to be defensively strong as well, which will make this a tight encounter.

With this being the opening qualification game it will likely be a cagey battle with neither team wanting to drop points this early, but Iran should have enough experience to just edge it.


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