Iran to Face Taifa Stars in Friendly

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Allafrica – IRAN football team has lined up a friendly against the national team, Taifa Stars, as part of their preparations for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, the football federation announced in Tehran.

Carlos Queiroz’s team is currently holding a training camp in South Africa, where they are expected to play three friendly matches ahead of next month’s Asian Cup. Iran’s highly-regarded Portuguese coach Queiroz, who despite an aging side and chaotic preparation almost took his side into the World Cup second round in Brazil, took 21 players on the trip.

Team Melli will take on Tanzania, Guatemala and South Africa during the near-two-week camp, the federation said, before returning to the Iranian capital for another friendly against Palestine on December 28. The Asian nation defeated Kaizer Chiefs B team 2-0 in their first friendly match in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The Asian Cup kicks off in Australia on January 9, with Iran playing Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the group stages. Queiroz (61), extended his tenure as coach with a four-year deal after coming back from Brazil.

His team’s World Cup preparations were hobbled by cash woes, partly blamed on the economic sanctions imposed on Iran as punishment for pursuing a disputed nuclear programme.

Iran are aiming for a good Asian Cup — their opener is against Bahrain on January 11 — with Queiroz’s next goal being to secure Iran’s place at the next World Cup, in Russia, in 2018.

The Asian heavyweight will also play Palestine on December 28 in Tehran. Team Melli will meet Iraq in another friendly in Australia six days before their opening match against Bahrain.

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