Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz named a predictable squad for the FIFA World Cup, lining up 16 overseas players plus nine from the Persian Gulf Pro League for the showdown – starting next Sunday in Qatar.
Iran will kick off its campaign against England on Monday in Group B – also featuring Wales and USA.
Of the 25 players, 16 were part of the World Cup squad four years ago, while only one – Esteghlal fullback Abolfazl Jalali – did not receive an international call-up during the Portuguese’s previous eight-year spell in charge, which came to an end following an Asian Cup semifinal exit in 2019.
The surprise decision by Queiroz was the omission of Sepahan left back Omid Nourafkan – a regular starter under former manager Dragan Skocic, who is also capable of playing in the midfield position.
Al Wakrah midfielder Omid Ebrahimi – a standout performer at the 2018 World Cup – also missed out on the roaster after picking up a groin injury during Thursday’s friendly against Nicaragua.
Queiroz still decided to leave out Persepolis midfielder Miald Sarlak, who was in the provisional list – as well as Tractor keeper Alireza Akhbari and Paykan center-back Saman Fallah – keeping the number of the players one short of what FIFA has authorized.
Injured striker Sardar Azmoun has also been named in the list despite not featuring for Bayer Leverkusen since he tore a muscle in his right calf while warming up for a Champions League clash with Porto on October 4.
The Bundesliga club had said he was expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
Kayserispor midfielder Ali Karimi has also been selected, though it has been two years since he last made a cameo appearance for the national team during a friendly against Bosnia.
The tournament in Qatar will be a third successive World Cup for Iran under Queiroz, who returned to the job in mid-September after ill-fated qualification campaigns with Colombia and Egypt.
Iran came within inches of a last-16 spot in Russia, finishing third in the group with four points while European heavyweights Spain and Portugal progressed with five.
Queiroz’s men will play Tunisia in a warmup match behind closed doors in Doha on Wednesday.
Chasing a first-ever progress to the knockout round, Iran will take on Wales on Nov. 25 before squaring off against USA four days later.
The following is Iran’s full World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina), Seyyed Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan).
Defenders: Ehsan Hajsafi (AEK Athens), Morteza Pouraliganji (Persepolis), Ramin Rezaeian (Sepahan), Milad Mohammadi (AEK Athens), Hossein Kan’anizadegan (Al Ahli), Shoja Khalilzadeh (Al Ahli), SadeqMoharrami (Dinamo Zagreb), Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal), Majid Hosseini (Kayserispor), Abolfazl Jalali (Esteghlal)
Midfielders: Ahmad Nourollahi (Shabab Al Ahli), Saman Qoddous (Brentford), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saeed Ezzatollahi (Vejle), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord), Mehdi Torabi (Persepolis), Ali Qolizadeh (Charleroi), Ali Karimi (Kayserispor)
Strikers: Karim Ansarifard (Omonia Nicosia), Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen), Mehdi Taremi (Porto)