April 24, 2024
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Sportsmole.co.uk – ASHGABAT, Iran will travel to Ashgabat to face Turkmenistan in Tuesday’s AFC qualifying encounter for the 2026 World Cup.

The visitors are hoping to produce another dominant display after cruising to a 5-0 victory in Thursday’s return fixture in Tehran.

Having taken one point from three matches, Turkmenistan will have to stage a remarkable turnaround if they are to reach the third stage of qualifying.

They began their qualifying campaign with a 3-1 defeat to Uzbekistan, before they gave up the lead on two occasions to draw 2-2 with Hong Kong in their final match of 2023.

After returning to action with a 2-0 friendly loss to Kazakhstan earlier this month, Turkmenistan experienced a disappointing result in Thursday’s trip to Tehran.

They were swept aside via a 5-0 scoreline to leave them bottom of the group and six points adrift of the top two with three games left to play.

After failing to win any of their last 11 matches, Turkmenistan have their work cut out to beat Iran and claim their first victory since edging out Bangladesh in June 2022.

In contrast to their hosts, Iran are on the brink of progressing to the third round of qualifying after taking seven points from their first three matches.

After kicking off their campaign with a commanding 4-0 win over Hong Kong, Team Melli would have been disappointed to spurn a two-goal lead in their draw with Uzbekistan on matchday two.

They then put their World Cup qualifying bid to one side, as they turned their focus to the Asian Cup in Qatar earlier this year.

Iran breezed through the group phase and ousted Syria and Japan in the knockout stages, before their hopes of winning the competition for the first time since 1976 were ultimately quashed by a semi-final defeat to eventual winners Qatar.

Amir Ghalenoei’s side returned to winning ways with an empathic 5-0 victory in Thursday’s home game against Turkmenistan thanks to a Hossein Kanaani brace as well as efforts from Serdar Azmoun, Mohammad Mohebi and Omid Noorafkan.

As a result of that victory, Iran have now won 16 of their last 19 matches inside regulation time, ensuring they travel to Ashgabat with high hopes of claiming another victory.

Team News

As for the visitors, Altymyrat Annadurdyyew could be brought into the side after featuring as a half-time substitute in Thursday’s fixture.

Mergen Orazow may also be tempted to freshen up his team by presenting Meylis Dinyiew with a starting opportunity.

As for the visitors, Azmoun has returned to Roma after sustaining a hamstring injury in the first half of Thursday’s defeat to Turkmenistan.

After coming off the bench to replace Azmoun and score in Tehran, Noorafkan is likely to be handed a starting opportunity for Tuesday’s contest.

Porto forward Mehdi Taremi will attempt to add to the 46 goals he has scored for his country when he leads the line in Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan possible starting lineup:
Ahallyyew; Khalmammedov, Zhumaev, Annagulyyev, Mammedow; Beknazarov, Caryyew; Amanov, Gurbanov, Dinyiew; Durdyyew

Iran possible starting lineup:
Beiranvand; Hardani, Kanaanizadegan, Mohammadi, Hazbavi; Ezatolahi, Noorafkan; Gholizadeh, Ghoddos, Mohebi; Taremi


Turkmenistan 0-3 Iran

Iran may not have home advantage for Tuesday’s return fixture, but we still expect them to produce another strong display and sweep past Turkmenistan with minimum fuss.