Datebook 2/12

first_imgTODAY Seal Celebration Workshop, 10 a.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Los Angeles Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive. Call (323) 644-4211, Ext. 0. Mail Datebook entries – including time, date, location and phone number – to Daily News City Desk, P.O. Box 4200, Woodland Hills, CA 91365; fax (818) 713-0058; e-mail [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Iran World Cup team guide – fixtures, kits, key player, probable line-up

first_img 4 4 ONE TO WATCHSaeid Ezatolahi will miss the first game of the finals against Morocco as he was sent off in the penultimate qualifier against South Korea for raking his studs down Min-Jae Kim’s head. The 21-year-old holding midfielder plays a vital role for Queiroz, shielding Iran’s defence and breaking up play, and he will be missed in a match Iran would have hoped to win to pick up points before the heavyweight clashes against Spain and Portugal.Ezatolahi made his professional debut all the way back in 2012, just 25 days after his 16th birthday, for Malavan, and two years later he signed for Atletico Madrid and joined their reserve team. He never made a first-team appearance for Atleti and left the following year for Rostov of Russia, with whom he is currently signed; he spent the 2017/18 campaign on loan at Amkar Perm, starting 12 games and scoring one goal.With an imposing physique and an aggressive style of play, opponents will find it hard to battle with Ezatolahi in the middle of the park. If he manages to successfully restrict the attacking play of both Spain and Portugal, Ezatolahi’s reputation as one of the finest young midfielders in world football will be established.FIXTURESFriday, June 15: MOROCCO v Iran (Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg) – kick-off 16:00Wednesday, June 20: Iran v SPAIN (Kazan Arena, Kazan) – kick-off 19:00Monday, June 25: Iran v PORTUGAL (Mordovia Arena, Saransk) – kick-off 19:00KITS Iran will take part in their fifth World Cup when the 2018 tournament begins this summer. takes an in-depth look at the Group B nation.MANAGERFormer Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz has been in charge of Iran since 2011. He is the longest serving manager in the history of the Iran national team, and is the only coach to guide Team Melli to more than one World Cup finals.A varied managerial career has seen the 65-year-old spend time in charge of Real Madrid, Portugal and South Africa among others, as well as being Sir Alex Ferguson’s no.2 at Old Trafford in two separate spells.Queiroz guided Iran to the 2014 World Cup as group winners in AFC qualifying, but they were eliminated at the group stage in Brazil without a win to their name; he also led Team Melli to the quarter-finals of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Since Queiroz’s appointment as manager, Iran have won 44 of 73 matches – losing just nine.CAPTAINMasoud Shojaei, an AEK Athens midfielder since January 2018, is set to lead Iran in Russia. The 33-year-old has won 72 caps for his nation and scored eight goals, first representing Team Melli in 2004. He has played at two World Cups to date (2006 and 2014), and is set to wear the armband at his third appearance on the biggest stage.However, until only recently it appeared Shojaei would not be allowed to play in Russia, as Iran’s deputy sports minister, Mohammad Reza Davarzani, said in August 2017 that neither he nor Ehsan Hajsafi would ever be invited to play for the national team again as they represented their club Panionios against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv.The pair did return to international duty, with Shojaei appearing in a friendly against Tunisia in March, but members of the Iranian parliament still want him banned for life.KEY PLAYERSardar Azmoun is perhaps the best-known member of Iran’s squad, but AZ Alkmaar’s winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh is likely to be the difference maker in Russia. Azmoun has had a disappointing domestic season with Rubin Kazan, but Jahanbakhsh has been the star of the Dutch Eredivisie in 2017/18.The 24-year-old top scored in the division with 21 goals in 33 games, while only two players also finished with more than his 12 assists. Though he can play anywhere along the front line, Jahanbakhsh’s strongest position is on the right wing and he is a devilishly tricky opponent with excellent playmaking and shooting abilities.He will likely start for Iran in his natural role on the right of the three attacking midfielders behind centre-forward Azmoun, and expect the majority of their attacking play to go through him. RECORD IN QUALIFYINGOnly Brazil booked their place in Russia earlier than Iran, who secured qualification for the finals on June 12, 2017 with two matches to spare. Queiroz’s men were the dominant nation in Asia, winning both their second round and third round groups with ease, and going the entire qualifying campaign without losing a single game.Team Melli allowed just five goals across all their 18 fixtures, and at one stage they went 12 matches without conceding; nine of those games were in round three, in which they only conceded on the final matchday having already qualified for the finals.TOURNAMENT PREPARATIONSQueiroz had three matches planned for Iran ahead of the World Cup. The first one was at home against Uzbekistan, which they won 1-0, before they visited Istanbul to take on Turkey, losing 2-1. Their last friendly was in Russia, against Lithuania, exactly a week before they get their finals campaign underway against Morocco, and they secured a 1-0 victory.BASE CAMPLokomotiv Bakovka Training Centre, Moscow regionPROBABLE LINE-UPtalkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.last_img read more