PREVIEW: Iran vs. UAE | 2022 World Cup Qualifiers - Team News, Opposition Insight, Predictions and More31.01.22
Written by Alex Azarm
Edited by Samson Tamijani
Graphic by Mahdi Javanbakhsh
Tuesday 01/02/22: Iran vs. UAE
Location: Tehran, Iran (Azadi Stadium)
Tehran – 18:00
London – 14:30
Berlin – 15:30
Los Angeles – 06:30
New York City – 09:00
Sydney – 01:30
Where to Watch:
USA - Paramount+
UK - OneFootball App or onefootball.com/en/match/2232109
Germany - sporttotal.tv/maa7978b29
Sweden - cmore.se/sport/spel/13737674-iran-forenade-arabemiraten
Australia - 10 Play
Iran - IRIB 3
After Team Melli clinched a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in a 1-0 victory over rivals Iraq on Thursday, they hope to stay at the top of Group A when hosting 3rd place UAE.
Iran headed into the match against Iraq undermanned due to multiple COVID-19 cases to key players such as Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Ghayedi, Ehsan Hajsafi, and Majid Hosseini. Allahyar Sayyadmanesh also missed the match as he was in England completing his transfer to Championship side Hull City. Team Melli kept their 4-3-3 formation from the last international break. The Persian Cheetahs welcomed back FC Porto striker Mehdi Taremi, who scored the winning goal in the 47th minute with the assist coming from captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh. Iran created many chances in the match and could have easily scored multiple goals to increase their goal difference in the group, but Iraqi goalkeeper Fahad Talib had a fantastic night despite the loss, grabbing eight saves to cap the scoreline at a respectable 1-0.
I expect the same starting eleven to be fielded from the last match against Iraq except for center back Shoja Khalilzadeh, who is suspended after picking up a yellow card on Thursday. He will most likely be replaced by Siavash Yazdani of Esteghlal. Goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and will miss the match against the UAE. Even if he was available, it looks as though Amir Abedzadeh, son of former Team Melli captain Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh, has earned the spot as Iran’s #1 goalie after another impressive showing as he looked calm on the ball and made a couple professional saves. On the other hand, midfielder Ahmad Nourollahi tested negative over the weekend and will be available for the match. Because of his lack of training however, I don’t expect him to be in the starting lineup, but he could make an appearance as a substitute.
Projected Starting Line-up (4-3-3)
Abedzadeh; Moharrami, Kanaani, Yazdani, Noorafkan; Ghoddos, Ezatolahi, Amiri; Gholizadeh, Taremi, Jahanbakhsh.
The opponent – UAE
Ranked 69th in the world and currently 3rd in Iran’s group, the UAE will have plenty to fight for to keep their World Cup dreams alive. And it will be an even tougher test as they will be without star striker Ali Mabkhout as he was not called up due to injury. With their chances of finishing above South Korea fading away, their best chance of getting closer to the big stage is by making it to the playoff as a 3rd place team. They are currently 4 points ahead of Lebanon and will try to make a bigger gap between playoff and elimination. Watch out for Brazilian-born striker Caio to be the main goal-scoring threat for the UAE as he has been their second-top goalscorer through qualifications behind Mabkhout.
Projected Starting Line-up for UAE (4-2-3-1)
Khasif; Hussain, Al Attas, Abbas, Khamis; Ramadan, Salmeen; Alzaabi, Saleh, Ibrahim; Caio.
Iran 2 - 0 UAE
Despite many players missing for Iran and having already punched their ticket to Qatar, Team Melli still have a strong team to field and have 1st place finish to fight for, and will do their best to keep South Korea as far as possible from the top spot. If Iran want to keep a clean sheet, they must put a majority of their attention towards keeping Caio away from the goal as all but one of UAE’s goals in their seven games in Group A have come from either Caio or the injured Mabkhout. They will be tough to break down - as are most of the remaining teams in Asia - but Iran’s midfield will be too much for UAE to handle and I believe they will win that important battle. Expect Taremi to get on the scoresheet once again, and I can see a late second goal for Team Melli as UAE look to find a potential equalizer, which can leave their defense open.
To listen to our podcast previewing the Iran vs. Lebanon match, visit: golbezanpodcast.com/golbezan/qatar-2022-here-we-come-iran-qualifies-for-third-consecutive-world-cup
Azadi Stadium, Tehran