News ID: 324777
Published: 0953 GMT October 22, 2022

Iran to play Nicaragua before heading to World Cup

Iran to play Nicaragua before heading to World Cup

Sports Desk

Iran will take on Nicaragua in the last warmup friendly before leaving for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, said Mehdi Taj, the president of the Iranian Football Federation.

The two sides will square off in Iran on November 10, Taj said in a televised interview on Friday, though the host venue is yet to be confirmed by the Iranian football governing body.

Iran will fly to Qatar on November 13 – one week before Qatar plays Ecuador in the World Cup opener.

Ranked 142nd in the latest FIFA ranking, the Central American side finished second to Haiti in the preliminary group and failed to reach the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers for the showdown in Qatar.

It will be a third pre-World Cup friendly for Iran under Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz, who returned to the job in mid-September, three years after ending his previous eight-year spell in charge of the Asian powerhouse.

Iran beat South American giant Uruguay 1-0, thanks to a Mehdi Taremi’s strike, before Sardar Azmoun headed home an equalizer as Queiroz’s men played to a 1-1 draw against African champion Senegal in Austria during the previous international break.

Asked if there will be an Iranian addition to Queiroz’s coaching staff for the event, Taj said that Foolad Khuzestan manager Javad Nekounam, who played as the team captain under the Portuguese, will join the national team next Friday, after the final round of the Persian Gulf Pro League fixtures prior to the World Cup.

Taj added that Nekounam will return to his club duty after the tournament, but insisted that the former Iranian international remains the favorite to replace Queiroz for next year’s AFC Asian Cup, once his contract expires in November.

Foolad, however, was quick to rule out Nekounam’s departure as the team eyes a “full-strength and successful display” at the AFC Champions League last-16 round against Saudi club Al Faisaly in February.

Nekounam himself had dismissed leaving Foolad three weeks ago as he prefers to see out his contract, extended by two years last season, at the southern Iranian club.

In a third successive World Cup with Queiroz on the bench, Iran will kick off its campaign against England at Al Rayyan’s Khalifa International Stadium on November 21.

Chasing a first-ever progress to the knockout phase, Queiroz’s side will then square off against Wales on Nov. 25 before taking on USA in the final round of Group B fixtures in Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium four days later.


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