Iran head coach Dragan Skocic announced a 22-man squad, comprising the Persian Gulf Pro League players, for the upcoming fixtures at the final group stage of the World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Skocic’s team will resume its qualification campaign on September 2 with a home game against Syria in Group A, which also features South Korea, the UAE, Iraq, and Lebanon.
The final squad, which will include the overseas players, for Iran’s first two games will be announced on August 30.
Iran will play away to Iraq on September 7, in a repeat of preliminary round encounters between the old foes.
Persepolis striker Mehdi Abdi, who scored six in the final six league games, received a first call-up for the international duty, as well as new Esteghlal signing Zobeir Niknafs and his teammate Mohammad-Hossein Moradmand.
Also being named in the Iranian squad for the first time are Sepahan’s wunderkind Yassin Salmani, club teammate Mohammad Karimi, Foolad Khuzestan fullback Saber Hardani, and Golgohar Sirjan skipper Ahamadreza Zenderouh.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Tuesday gave the go-ahead for Iran to play its home fixtures at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium.
The AFC’s announcement came as a relief for Skocic’s team amid rumors in recent weeks suggesting Iran Football Federation might have to name a neutral venue for the home ties as the Azadi Stadium is yet to be equipped with the video assistant referee (VAR) technology, which will be an obligatory for the remainder of the qualifiers in Asia.
The following is the full 22-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Seyyed Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Mohammadreza Akhbari (Tractor)
Defenders: Saber Hardani (Foolad Kuzestan), Aref Aqasi, Siavash Yazdani, Mohammad-Hossein Mordamand (Esteghlal), Saeid Aqaei (Persepolis), Omid Nourafkan (Sepahan), Armin Sohrabian (Golgohar Sirjan)
Midfielders: Mehdi Tikdari, Ahamdreza Zenderouh (Golgohar Sirjan), Farshid Esmaeili (Esteghlal), Vahid Amiri, Mehdi Torabi, Milad Sarlak (Persepolis), Mohammad Karimi, Farshad Ahmadzadeh, Yassin Salmani (Sepahan), Zobeir Niknafs (Esteghlal)
Strikers: Amir-Arsalan Motahari (Esteghlal), Mehdi Abdi (Persepolis), Shahriar Moghanlou (Sepahan)