Neha Patil (Editor)

Iran national football team

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Sub-confederation  CAFA (Central Asia)
Top scorer  Ali Daei (109)
FIFA code  IRN
Captain  Andranik Teymourian
Arena/Stadium  Azadi Stadium
Most caps  Javad Nekounam (151)
Home stadium  Azadi Stadium (78,116)
Founded  1920
Manager  Carlos Queiroz
Head coach  Carlos Queiroz
Iran national football team httpssmediacacheak0pinimgcomoriginals31

Nickname(s)  Team Melli تیم ملی other nicknames
Association  Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran
Confederation  Asian Football Confederation

Iran national football team best goals hd

The National football team of Iran (Persian: تیم ملی فوتبال ایران‎‎, Tīm-e Melli Fūtbāl-e Īrān), also known as Team Melli (Persian: تیم ملی‎‎, Tīm-e Melli), represents Iran in international football competitions and is governed by the Iran Football Federation. The national football team of Iran, known as Team Melli, ranks 1st in Asia and 29th in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings as of December 2016.


Iran is one of the most successful national teams in Asia with three Asian Cup championships (1968, 1972, and 1976). Iran has qualified for the World Cup four times (1978, 1998, 2006, and 2014) but has never advanced past the group stage. Iran's only win in the World Cup has been a 2–1 victory against the United States in 1998.

Carlos queiroz head coach iran national football team

Early years

The Iranian Football Federation was founded in 1920. In 1926 Tehran XI (selected players from Tehran Club, Toofan F.C. and Armenian Sports Club) traveled across the border to Baku, USSR, this was the first away football match for an Iranian team. This Tehran Select team is the predecessor of Iran's national football team.

The first match that Team Melli played was on 23 August 1941, away at Kabul in a 1–0 win against British India, while Iran's first FIFA international match was on 25 August 1941, away at Afghanistan. Iran won the Asian Cup three consecutive times (1968, 1972, 1976), to which the team has not been able to add since.

1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina

Additional information: 1978 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC and OFC) Additional information: 1978 FIFA World Cup – Group 4

In 1978, Iran made its first appearance in the World Cup after defeating Australia in Tehran. Iran lost two of three group stage matches against the Netherlands and Peru. Team Melli managed to surprise the footballing community by securing one point in its first ever World Cup appearance against Scotland which saw Iraj Danaeifard cancel out an own goal scored by Andranik Eskandarian for the 1–1 draw.

After the Revolution

After the 1979 Revolution, football was somewhat neglected and cast aside. During the 1980s, the Iranian national team did not feature in World Cup competitions due to the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88) and domestic football suffered the inevitable effects of conflict. The national team withdrew from the Asian qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup, and refused to participate in the qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup because of having to play on neutral ground. The war and political upheavals left Iran without major club competitions until 1989 when the Qods League was established. A year later, the Qods League was renamed the Azadegan League. Despite failing to qualify for either the 1990 or the 1994 World Cups, it was during this period that a number of quality players burst onto the Iranian football scene, laying the foundation for third place in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup (memorable victories in that tournament included a 3–0 victory against Saudi Arabia and an impressive 6–2 victory against South Korea) and their second stab at World Cup glory in 1998.

1998 FIFA World Cup in France

Additional information: 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC–OFC play-off) Additional information: 1998 FIFA World Cup – Group F

In November 1997, Iran qualified for the 1998 World Cup after eliminating Australia in a close playoff series. Both games finished undecided, but Iran managed to qualify due to the away goals rule. Iran held Australia to a 1–1 draw at home, and a 2–2 draw in Melbourne; however, since Iran had scored more away goals, they were able to qualify for the Cup.

At their first game of the Group F at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Iran played well against Yugoslavia, losing narrowly 1–0, only to a free kick goal by Siniša Mihajlović. Iran recorded their first World Cup victory in the second game, beating the United States 2–1, with Hamid Estili and Mehdi Mahdavikia scoring goals for Iran. The Iran vs USA World Cup match was preheated with much excitement because of each country's political stance after the Iranian revolution and the Iran hostage crisis. However, in an act of defiance against all forms of hatred or politics in sports, both sides presented one another with gifts and flowers and took ceremonial pictures before the match kickoff. Following defeat against Iran, the United States was eliminated from the World Cup.

Iran played against Germany in the third game. The game was lost 2–0. The goals were scored by Oliver Bierhoff and Jürgen Klinsmann. The one win and two losses meant Iran came third in the final group standing and failed to make it to the next round. (Farhad Majidi and Mehdi Fonounizadeh were important absents in the tournament.)

2000 AFC Asian Cup

Iran finished first in the group stage of the tournament, but lost to South Korea in the quarter-finals.

2002 FIFA World Cup qualification

Additional information: 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) Additional information: 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA–AFC play-off)

Iran failed to qualify for World Cup 2002 after an aggregate defeat to the Republic of Ireland, losing 2–0 in Dublin and winning 1–0 in Tehran. The elimination saw manager Miroslav Blažević step down from the top spot to be replaced by his assistant Branko Ivanković, who stepped up from assistant coach.

2004 AFC Asian Cup

After qualifying to the Asian Cup 2004, Iran was drawn with Thailand, Oman, and Japan in the tournament. Iran finished second in this group. In quarter-final clash against South Korea, Iran won 4–3 in normal time. In the semi-final, Iran lost to the host, China on penalty kicks. Iran won against Bahrain 4–2 to finish third place in the tournament.

2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany

Additional information: 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) Additional information: 2006 FIFA World Cup Group D

On 8 June 2005, Iran together with Japan became the first country to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, making it Iran's 3rd appearance on the world stage of football. The qualification round both in 2001 and 2004–05 resulted in mass celebrations, hysteria and rioting, causing internal chaos and unrest between youth and government officials. The Iran versus Japan leg of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers in Tehran, played on 24 March 2005, was the highest attended qualifying match among all confederations. The match ended in tragedy with 5 fans killed and several others injured as they left the Azadi Stadium at the end of the match.

Iran started their 2006 FIFA World Cup appearance with high expectations from fans and media. Their first match was against Mexico in Group D. The game was level 1–1 at the half-time, but Iran lost at the end because of a defensive mistake. The final score, 3–1, was brought about by goals from Omar Bravo and Zinha for Mexico, with Yahya Golmohammadi scoring the only Iran goal.

Iran played against Portugal in the second game. The game was lost 2–0. The goals were scored by Deco and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty). The two losses meant Iran was eliminated from the competition, before their third and final game against Angola. Iran drew 1–1 with Angola on the 21 June 2006, Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh scoring the Iran goal.

Temporary suspension

In November 2006, Iran was suspended by FIFA from all participation in international football, on the grounds of governmental interference in the national football association. The ban lasted less than a month, and as a dispensation was given to allow the Iran under-23 team to participate in the football competition of the 2006 Asian Games, fixtures were unaffected.

2007 AFC Asian Cup

Additional information: 2007 AFC Asian Cup Group C

IRIFF appointed Amir Ghalenoei as head coach of the Iran national football team on 17 July 2006 to succeed Branko Ivanković. After finishing first in the qualifying round 2 points ahead of South Korea and then finishing first in the group stage of the final tournament in Malaysia, Iran lost to South Korea in a penalty shoot-out of the quarterfinal match and was eliminated from the 2007 Asian Cup. Ghalenoei was heavily criticized by the press. After a period of discussion in the Iranian football federation, his contract was not renewed and Team Melli was left with a caretaker manager for several months.

2010 FIFA World Cup qualification

Additional information: 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC)

Ali Daei was chosen to become the new coach after Spanish coach Javier Clemente had been close to signing on as Iran's national team manager but talks collapsed when he refused to live full-time in the country. Iran was in the same FIFA World Cup qualifying group as Kuwait, Syria and United Arab Emirates in the third round. They played home and away against each of the other three teams in group 5. In the middle of the fourth round, Ali Daei was let go from his position as the Iranian national coach on 29 March 2009. He was replaced by Afshin Ghotbi. Iran failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup after ranking 4th overall in its group.

2011 AFC Asian Cup

Additional information: 2011 AFC Asian Cup Group D

Iran renewed the contract with Afshin Ghotbi until the end of 2011 AFC Asian Cup and the team qualified to the tournament with 13 points as the group winners.

During the final qualification match against South Korea, several Iranian players started the match wearing green armbands or wristbands, a symbol of protest at the outcome of the Iranian presidential election. Most removed them at half-time. The newspaper Iran reported that Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Hosein Kaebi, and Vahid Hashemian had received life bans from the Iranian FA for the gesture. However, the Iranian FA denied this claim in a response to FIFA's inquiry saying that "the comments in foreign media are nothing but lies and a mischievous act." Head coach Afshin Ghotbi also confirmed that it was a rumour and Iranian FA "has not taken any official stand on this issue."

Afshin Ghotbi was able to qualify for 2011 Asian Cup and finished second in West Asian Football Federation Championship 2010 just a few months before the 2011 Asian Cup. Iran was able to gain all nine points in the group stage of the 2011 Asian Cup but after an extra time goal from South Korea, Iran was yet again unable to get to the semifinals of the competition.


On 4 April 2011, former Real Madrid manager Carlos Queiroz agreed to a two-and-a-half-year deal to coach the Iranian national team until the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Under Queiroz, Iran began their World Cup qualification campaign successfully, defeating the Maldives 4–0 in the first leg of their second round of qualifiers. After winning 5–0 on aggregate, Iran advanced to the third round of qualifiers, where they were drawn with Indonesia, Qatar and Bahrain. Iran highlighted their position at the top of their group by defeating Bahrain 6–0 at home in the Azadi Stadium, as well as inviting former German youth international, Ashkan Dejagah, who scored twice on his debut against Qatar. After a 4–1 win at Indonesia, Iran qualified for the final round of direct qualifiers, the fourth round. In the fourth round, Iran was drawn with South Korea, Qatar, Uzbekistan, and Lebanon in their group. Queiroz made new foreign-based additions to his squad, adding players such as Reza Ghoochannejhad to his team. Iran started their fourth round of Asian qualifiers with a 1–0 win in Uzbekistan. Team Melli then drew Qatar and lost in Lebanon before defeating South Korea at the Azadi on 16 October with a goal from captain Javad Nekounam. After a 1–0 loss in Tehran against Uzbekistan, Iran defeated Qatar 1–0 in Doha and Lebanon 4–0 at home. In their last qualification match, Iran defeated South Korea 1–0 in Ulsan Munsu with a goal from Ghoochannejhad, resulting in their qualification to the 2014 FIFA World Cup as group winners with 16 points. Thus, Iran became the third team that Queiroz has managed to qualify for the World Cup, having reached the 2002 edition with South Africa and the 2010 edition with Portugal, leading the latter to a knockout stage finish. Iran continued their winning streak, securing qualification to the 2015 Asian Cup months later as well.

Foreign-based call-ups

Since Queiroz's role as manager of the Iranian national team, he has been renowned for introducing players from the Iranian diaspora to the national squad. These players include German-Iranians Daniel Davari and Ashkan Dejagah, Dutch-Iranian Reza Ghoochannejhad, Swedish-Iranian Omid Nazari, and Iranian-American Steven Beitashour among others.


Additional information: 2014 FIFA World Cup – Group F

Iran qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup as group winners and competed in Group F alongside Argentina, Nigeria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The sold out Argentina match tickets were among the eight most purchased for this edition of the tournament. On 1 June 2014, Queiroz announced his 23-man squad. Prior to the tournament, they founded the Central Asian Football Association.

In the opening match of the tournament on June 16, Iran drew Nigeria 0–0, making it their first clean sheet of the FIFA World Cup. In their next match, Iran was defeated by Argentina 1–0 with a late goal from Lionel Messi, and received praise after holding Argentina for 90 minutes while creating some attacking opportunities of their own. Iran was eliminated from the tournament in their next game, a 3–1 defeat to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Iran's lone goal was scored by Reza Ghoochannejhad. After the tournament, Queiroz declared he would resign as manager of Iran, but later switched and extended his contract until the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

2015 AFC Asian Cup

Additional information: 2015 AFC Asian Cup Group C

Iran qualified for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup as group winners, where Team Melli were the highest ranked seed. Iran faced Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE in Group C. Queiroz announced his squad on 30 December 2014.

With the second highest number of fans in the tournament after hosts Australia, the Iranians defeated Bahrain 2–0 with limited preparations. A defensive minded Iran then defeated Persian Gulf Cup champions Qatar 1–0 thanks to a Sardar Azmoun goal before defeating the UAE by the same scoreline to reach the top of their group.

In the quarter-finals Iran faced Iraq, who they had beaten weeks prior in a friendly match. Having received a controversial red card in the first half, Iran competed with ten men, managing to score goals late in extra time to draw the match 3–3. In the ensuing penalty shootout, Iran lost 7–6 in sudden death.

2018 FIFA World Cup qualification

Iran began their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign with friendly matches against Chile and Sweden in March 2015. Queiroz resigned from his managerial post thereafter due to disagreements with the Iranian Football Federation. On 14 April 2015, Iran were drawn with Oman, India, Turkmenistan, and Guam in the second round of qualifiers. On 26 April, Queiroz announced that he will continue as the manager of Iran for their 2018 World Cup campaign.

Australia-Iran, 29 November 1997

After qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup by defeating Australia on aggregate, Iranian fans celebrating in the streets quickly turned them into protests against the Revolutionary Guards.

Bahrain-Iran, 21 October 2001

The 3–1 defeat to Bahrain came as a surprise. This in turn brought upon Iran's failure to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. There were allegations that the authorities pressured the players to lose. It was later denied by Mohsen Safaei Farahani, then president of the IFF. Nevertheless, to this day, many fans of 'Team Melli' continue to speculate whether the defeat was of legitimate causes or whether some authorities behind the scenes had brought about the defeat on purpose in order to prevent celebrations in the streets.

Presidential election protests, 2009

During the final game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Korea in Seoul on 17 June 2009, seven members of the team, Javad Nekounam, Ali Karimi, Hossein Kaebi, Masoud Shojaei, Mohammad Nosrati, Vahid Hashemian, and captain Mehdi Mahdavikia wore green wristbands in support of the Iranian Green Movement during the 2009 Iranian election protests. Initial reports were that all seven players were banned for life by the Iranian Football Federation, however, state-run media claimed that all seven had "retired". On 24 June 2009, FIFA wrote to Iran's Football Federation asking for clarification on the situation. The Iranian Football Federation replied that no disciplinary action has been taken against any player. As of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification, several of the above players have played again for the national team, notably Javad Nekounam, Masoud Shojaei, Mehdi Mahdavikia, and Ali Karimi.

Fans during the 2014 World Cup

During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Iranian fans bridged gaps with American and Israeli fans. Many of them waved pre-revolutionary Lion and Sun flags. Iranian women also held one of the highest percentages for social media posts.


The Iranian national team has received several nicknames by supporters and media. The most common one used is "Team Melli", which literally means "The National Team". Iranians call any national team from any country or sport a "Team Melli" and because of this it has become common for the national team to be referred to as the "Team Melli Iran" or, more specifically in the case of the national football team, the "Team Melli e Football e Iran". Although the Iranian supporters have popularized "Team Melli", other nicknames for the team include "Persian Stars" (entitled since the World Cup 2006) "Shiran e Iran", meaning "The Iranian Lions" or "The Lions of Persia", "Shirdelan", "Lion Hearts" and "Princes of Persia" (used since AFC Asian Cup 2011) have been used in media as well. Iran's slogan for the 2014 FIFA World Cup was Honour of Persia, selected in an internet poll held by FIFA. A recently used nickname, due to the presence of the Asiatic cheetah on the 2014 World Cup jersey, is 'The Cheetahs'from 2014 in Iran called yoozpalangan.


  • South Korea national football team
  • Iran and South Korea are sporting rivals and have played against each other officially since 1958, totally 29 matches as of October 2016, including eight World Cup qualifiers. These two teams were among the strongest Asian national football teams during the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, the teams have developed one of Asia's greatest rivalries. Although the teams only had one chance to play against each other in the final match of the AFC Asian Cup, in 1972, they faced each other five consecutive times at the quarterfinals stage from 1996–2011. Iran leads the series with 13 wins, 7 draws and 9 losses.

  • Saudi Arabia national football team
  • Iran and Saudi Arabia are rivals. The game has been ranked 9th in Bleacher Report's "International Football's 10 Most Politically-Charged Football Rivalries" and 8th in's "Football's 10 Greatest International Rivalries".

    Iran and Saudi Arabia have had 15 matches so far. All of their matches have been competitive and they have never played a friendly match. The first match was played on 24 August 1975, with Iran defeating Saudi Arabia 3–0. Iran leads the series with 5 wins, 6 draws and 4 losses.

  • Iraq national football team
  • According to the Malay Mail, "Emotions are always high when Iran and Iraq meet on the football pitch". The rivalry is not such a football-inspired ill-feeling between the two, but more of geography, religion and history. Iran and Iraq are neighboring countries, sharing a long history. In the contemporary era, especially during the reign of Saddam Hussein, the two countries had bad relations and fought the Iran–Iraq War for 8 years. In 2001, for the first time in decades, an Iran-Iraq match was not held at a neutral venue. Iran leads the series with 14 wins, 7 draws and 4 losses.


    Since 1972, Iran's national stadium is Tehran's Azadi Stadium with a nominal capacity of 78,116 spectators. Azadi Stadium is the 23rd largest association football stadium in the world, 7th in Asia and 1st in West Asia. A record was set in Azadi for the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Australia with over 128,000 in attendance. The government restricts Iranian women from entering the stadiums.

    From 1942 to 1972, Amjadieh Stadium was Iran's national stadium. The other stadiums that Iran has been played international games are Yadegar Emam Stadium (Tabriz), Takhti Stadium (Tehran) and Enghelab Stadium (Karaj).

    The Iran National Football Camp is home to Iran's trainings.

    Kit suppliers

    The table below shows the history of kit providers for the Iranian national football team.

    Asiatic cheetah

    On 1 February 2014, Iran announced the addition of the endangered Asiatic cheetah on their 2014 FIFA World Cup kits in order to bring attention to its conservation efforts.

    Asian Cup

    *Denotes draws which include knockout matches decided on penalty kicks.
    **Red border color indicates tournament was held on home soil.

    Olympic Games

  • Young teams were favoured by FIFA and the IOC, and since 1992, male competitors must be under 23 years old, with three over-23 players allowed per squad. See Iran U-23 team.
  • Asian Games

  • Young teams were favoured by AFC and the IOC, and since 2002 male competitors must be under 23 years old, with three over-23 players allowed per squad.
  • Previous matches

      Win   Draw   Loss

    Forthcoming matches

    *FIFA International match days 2014–2018 §AFC Calendar of Competitions 2016–2018

    Coaching staff

  • Reference
  • Current squad

  • The following 23 players were called up for the training camp in United Arab Emirates:
  • Date: 6 January 2017
  • Caps and goals correct as of: 1 January 2017.
  • Recent call-ups

    The following players have been called up for the team in the last 12 months.

  • Inj Player withdrawn from the squad due to an injury.
  • Pre Preliminary squad.
  • RC Player suspended for yellow or red card accumulation.
  • Ret Player retired from the national team.
  • Sus Player suspended.
  • World Cups

  • World Cup 2014 squad
  • World Cup 2006 squad
  • World Cup 1998 squad
  • World Cup 1978 squad
  • Olympic Games

  • 1964 Olympic Games
  • 1972 Olympic Games
  • 1976 Olympic Games
  • Asian Cups

  • Asian Cup 2015 squad
  • Asian Cup 2011 squad
  • Asian Cup 2007 squad
  • Asian Cup 2004 squad
  • Asian Cup 2000 squad
  • Asian Cup 1996 squad
  • Asian Cup 1992 squad
  • Asian Cup 1988 squad
  • Asian Cup 1984 squad
  • See also Category:Iran international footballers

    Most capped players

    As of 11 October 2016, the 10 players with the most caps:

    Most capped goalkeepers

    As of 7 June 2016, the 5 goalkeepers with the most caps:

    The records are collected based on data from FIFA and RSSSF.
    Bold names denote a player still playing or available for selection.

    Top goalscorers

    As of 10 November 2016, the 10 players with the most goals:

    The records are collected based on data from FIFA, RSSSF & Varzesh3.
    Bold names denote a player still playing or available for selection.

    Iran captains

    As of 11 November 2016

    Most matches as captain

    As of 7 June 2016, the 10 players with the most matches as captain:


  • Asian Cup
  • Champions (3): 1968, 1972, 1976 Third place (4): 1980, 1988, 1996, 2004
  • Asian Games
  • 01 ! Gold Medal (4): 1974, 1990, 1998, 2002 02 ! Silver Medal (2): 1951, 1966

    Young teams were favoured by AFC and the IOC, and since 2002 male competitors must be under 23 years old, with three over-23 players allowed per squad.


  • West Asian Football Federation Championship
  • Champions (4): 2000, 2004, 2007*, 2008 Runners-up (1): 2010 Third place (1): 2002
  • ECO Cup
  • Champions (3): 1965, 1970, 1993 Runners-up (2): 1967, 1969

    * as B Team


  • AFC/OFC Challenge Cup
  • Champions (1): 2003
  • Afro-Asian Cup of Nations
  • Runners-up (1): 1991
  • Canada Cup
  • Runners-up (1): 1999


  • Carlsberg Cup
  • Runners-up (1): 2003 Third place (1): 1998
  • LG Cup
  • Champions (3): 2001, 2002, 2002 Third place (1): 2000


    Iran national football team Wikipedia