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Iran World Cup countdown begins with coach Queiroz at the helm

Iran is rushing to prepare for the World Cup final, but returning coach Carlos Queiroz is confident that upcoming friendlies against Uruguay and Senegal will help prepare his team for November’s tournament in Qatar.

After months of speculation, Queiroz was named last week to replace Croatian Dragan Skocic at the helm, but the former Real Madrid and Portugal manager has just over two months to fine-tune the squad.

Queiroz returns after playing for the national teams of Colombia and Egypt. This year he took Egypt to the brink of qualifying for Qatar.

He will work with a team he knows well from his eight-year stay in Tehran, which led Iran to the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. He left the role following his team’s semi-final elimination from the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates in January 2019.

“This is our first step towards preparing for the World Cup,” the 69-year-old said of a training camp in Austria starting next week, where Iran will play Uruguay on September 23 and Senegal four days later.

“We will do our best both on and off the field to prepare for the competition. We have an obligation to improve conditions, make progress and always move forward,” he was quoted as saying by media in Tehran.

Queiroz has named a 27-man squad for the camp as he prepares his team for a challenging World Cup campaign that will see the Iranians open the competition against England on November 21 and then face Wales and the United States.

Sixteen of the 23 players selected to play in the World Cup final in Russia four years ago were included in the squad, including 35-year-old Omid Ebrahimi.

The midfielder, who plays in his club football in Qatar for Al Wakrah, was a standout under Queiroz in 2018 but has only made two appearances for Iran since November 2019.

Other familiar faces include goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, as well as Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun and Porto striker Mehdi Taremi.

“As a professional coach, I know that all the teams in the world are progressing,” said Queiroz. “We will also do our best to face our adversaries in Qatar and be fully prepared for the campaign.”

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