Dec 29 (Reuters) – Turmoil and uncertainty have become the norm around Iran’s national team, but Carlos Queiroz will look to push aside the distractions to end the country’s 43-year Asian Cup title drought.
Iran last won Asian football’s most coveted trophy in 1976, when they completed the third of three consecutive championship wins that mark the country out as one of continent’s most successful ever.
But for all their achievements since that last triumph — a resume that includes five World Cup appearances and three gold medals at the Asian Games — the title the football-mad nation hankers after most has continued to prove elusive.
Facts about Iran’s national team ahead of the Asian Cup, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates from Jan 5 to Feb 1:
FIFA world ranking: 29
Ranking in Asia: 1
Previous Asian Cups: 13
Best performance: Champions (1968, 1972, 1976)
Nickname: Team Melli
Coach: Carlos Queiroz
Regular captain: Masoud Shojaei
Player to watch: Sardar Azmoun
Sept 11 Uzbekistan 0-1 Iran (Tashkent)
Oct 16 Iran 2-1 Bolivia (Tehran)
Nov 15 Iran 1-0 Trinidad and Tobago (Tehran)
Nov 20 Iran1-1 Venezuela (Doha)
Dec 24 Palestine 1-1 Iran (Doha)
Jan 7 Iran v Yemen (Abu Dhabi)
Jan 12 Vietnam v Iran (Abu Dhabi)
Jan 16 Iran v Iraq (Dubai)
(Compiled by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)