The Iran national football team, recognized by FIFA as IR Iran, represents Iran in international football and is controlled by the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Between December 2014 and May 2018, Iran was the top-ranked team in Asia, the longest streak that any team has held the title. Iran Football History.

YearAll Years

At the continental level, Iran won three Asian Cup championships in 1968, 1972, and 1976. The country’s best performance at the Olympics was reaching the quarterfinals at the 1976 Montreal Games. In the FIFA World Cup, Iran has qualified six times (1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018, and 2022) and has never advanced beyond the group stage. They have won just two matches: against the USA in 1998 and Morocco in 2018.

Early Years

The Iranian Football Federation was founded in 1920. In 1926, Tehran XI traveled across the border to Baku, Soviet Union, 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 in Kabul against British India winning 1-0 while Iran’s first FIFA international match was away to Afghanistan on 25 August 1941. Iran has won the Asian Cup three times in a row (1968, 1972, 1976), and since then the team has not been able to participate.

1998 World Cup

The Iranian Football Federation was founded in 1920. In 1926, Tehran XI traveled across the border to Baku, Soviet Union, the first away football match for an Iranian team. This selected team of Tehran is the predecessor of Iran’s national football team.

Team Melli played their first match on 23 August 1941 in Kabul, winning 1–0 against British India, while Iran’s first FIFA international match was on 25 August 1941 away to Afghanistan. Iran has won the Asian Cup three times in a row (1968, 1972, 1976) since the team failed to participate.

2006 FIFA World Cup

On 8 June 2005, Iran became the first country to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, along with Japan, making it Iran’s third appearance on the world football stage. Celebrations, hysteria, and riots in both the 2001 and 2004-05 qualification rounds led to internal chaos and unrest among the youth and government officials. The Iran v Japan leg of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers played in Tehran on 24 March 2005 was the most attended qualifying match across all confederations. At the end of the match, 5 fans were killed and many were injured as they left the Azadi Stadium

Iran Football Team

Iran began its participation in the 2006 FIFA World Cup with few expectations from the fans and media. Their first match in Group D was against Mexico. The game was tie 1-1 at half-time, but a defensive error forced Iran to lose in the end. The final score, 3-1, was secure for Mexico by goals from Omar Bravo and Sinha, with Yahya Golmohammadi scoring Iran’s lone goal.

In the second match, Iran played against Portugal. The game was lost 2-0. Goals scored by Deco and Cristiano Ronaldo (penalty). Two defeats meant that Iran was out of the competition ahead of the third and final match against Angola. On 21 June 2006, Iran drew 1–1 with Angola, with Sohrab Bakhtiarzadeh scoring Iran’s goal.

2011 AFC Asian Cup

Iran renewed Afshin Ghoutbi’s contract until the end of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup. And the team qualified for the tournament as group winners with 13 points.

During the final qualification match against South Korea, several Iranian players started the match wearing green armbands or wristbands. A symbol of protest over the results of the Iranian presidential election. Most removed them at halftime. Akhbar Iran reported that Ali Karimi, Mehdi Mehdavikia, Hossein Kibi, and Vahid Hashemian were banned for life by the Iranian FA for the gesture.

Head Coach

However, the Iranian FA denied the claim in response to FIFA’s inquiry, saying “the comments of the foreign media are nothing but lies and mischievous acts.” Head coach Afshin Ghoutbi also confirmed that it was a rumor and that the Iranian FA “has not taken an official position on the matter.”

Afsheen Ghotbi managed to qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup and finished second in the West Asian Football Federation Championship 2010. A few months before the 2011 Asian Cup. Iran managed to secure all nine points in the group stage of the 2011 Asian Cup. But still failed to reach the semi-finals of the competition after an extra-time goal by South Korea. Iran Football History.

2022 FIFA World Cup

Iran was the highest-seeded team in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification. Iran advanced to the second round where they will face two Arab rivals Iraq. And Bahrain along with Cambodia and Hong Kong. Iran, under new manager Marc Wilmots, opened with a 2-0 win over Hong Kong. Before the 14–0 win over Cambodia, the latter game was historic. As it was the first time women were allow into the stadium since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Their next round matches against Bahrain and Iraq were consecutive defeats, with Iran losing 0–1 and 1–2 respectively. After back-to-back draws between Iraq and Bahrain, any chance of Iran reaching the second round of the World Cup looked likely to be lost. And led to the sacking of Mark Wilmots as a coach. Iran Football History.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the remaining fixtures in June 2021 to be play without spectators. Thus forcing Iran to play their remaining matches in Bahrain under new coach Dragan Skunk. But Bahrain lost their home support as an advantage, and Iraq secured a place in the final stage, Iran managed to make a comeback. Eventually taking first place and reaching the final stage together with Iraq. For more details Click here