With less than six months before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar, the Iranian Football Federation has been struggling to arrange friendly fixtures for the country’s national team.
Dragan Skocic’s men will fly to Canada to take on the top team of the World Cup CONCACAF qualifiers on June 5 – a match already overshadowed by political issues – but the match in Vancouver, British Columbia, as it stands, will likely be Iran’s single outing during the upcoming 17-day international break.
The Asian powerhouse had also reached agreement for a friendly against Ecuador in the North American country, before team director Hamid Estili said the game had been called off – for what is believed to be Canada’s refusal to name a host venue for the game.
“We instantly began negotiations with the Senegalese federation to replace the game, but they won’t be able to play us in June because of their commitment to the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers,” former Iranian international told Iran’s Arabic TV Alalam on Sunday, though he was optimistic of sealing a match with the African champion for September.
That all means Iran will only have nine days in September’s international break to play friendlies before heading for the showdown in Qatar, starting November 21.
Iran has been pitted against England, USA, and one of Wales, Scotland, or Ukraine in Group B of the finals.
Skocic’s team will kick off its campaign against at Al Rayyan’s Khalifa International Stadium on the opening day of the competition.
Iran will have to wait until June to learn which European opponent it will face on November 25 as the winner of the match between Scotland and Ukraine will play Wales in Cardiff for the last slot in the group.
The final day of the Group B fixtures will see Iran square off against USA on November 29 in a repeat of the clash between the two geopolitical foes at the 1998 World Cup in France, which Iran won 2-1.