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Flag of Iran
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority nominally vested in a learned religious scholar. Iranian-US relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987-1988. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement. Following the elections of a reformist president and Majlis in the late 1990s, attempts to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction have floundered as conservative politicians have prevented reform measures from being enacted, increased repressive measures, and consolidated their control over the government.
Map of Iran
More about Iran:
|Coach||Branko Ivankovic (2003-)|
|Most caps||Ali Daei (147)|
|Top scorer||Ali Daei (109)|
Afghanistan 0 - 0 Iran
(Kabul, Afghanistan; January 1, 1941)
Iran 19 - 0 Guam
(Tabriz, Iran; November 24, 2000)
Turkey 6 - 1 Iran
(Istanbul, Turkey; May 28, 1950)
South Korea 5 - 0 Iran
(Tokyo, Japan; May 28, 1958)
|Appearances||3 (First in 1978)|
|Best result||Round 1, 1978 and 1998|
|AFC Asian Cup|
|Appearances||11 (First in 1960)|
|Best result||Winners, 1968, 1972, 1976|
The Iran national football team is the national team of Iran and is controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation and is one of the strongest teams in Asia. Iran play their home games in the massive Azadi (Freedom) Stadium which was built in the mid 1970s with a capacity of over 100,000. Iranian national football team is also known as Team Melli.
Iran won the Asian Cup three times in a row (1968, 1972, 1976) and have finished third four times. In 1978, Iran made its first appearance in the World Cup and lost two of their three group stage games against the Netherlands and Peru. However, they managed to create a shocker by drawing against the famous Scotland side 1-1 on a late Iraj Danaeifard goal.
After the 1979 Revolution, football was somewhat neglected and cast aside during the mid 1980s due to internal unrest and the Iran-Iraq War although rumors saying that Iran didn't play football during that time are untrue. Football managed to make its revival in the early 1990s with new talents like Ali Daei, Mehdi Mahdavikia, Khodadad Azizi and Karim Bagheri. In November 1997, Iran qualified for the 1998 World Cup after beating Australia in a controversial playoff series. Both games finished undecided, but Iran qualified due to the away goals rule. Iran held Australia to a 1-1 draw at home, and a 2-2 draw in Melbourne. Because Iran scored more away goals than Australia, they qualified for the 1998 World Cup. Iran recorded their first win in the World Cup final tournament in 1998, 2-1 against the USA.
This Iran vs USA World Cup match was preheated with much excitement on both sides because of the countries' political stance on each other after the revolution in Iran. However, in an act of defiance against all forms of hatred or politics in sports both sides took ceremonial pictures embracing each other and gave each other gifts and flowers before kickoff.
The number of "footy fanatics" in Iran has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Football can be seen everywhere in Iran. Kids playing football in narrow streets is a very common sight, particularly south and east of Tehran. This style of football named "gol-koocheak" ("small-net") is normally played with the signature purple or red and white balls sold almost in every Iranian "dokoon" or convenience store. Street football is usually played with "dolayeh" ("two-layered") or "selayeh" (triple-layered) plastic balls, because the single rubber ball alone is hard to control. One plastic ball is cut and the other is forced into its hard plastic shell to make a "dolayeh" plastic ball. Because street football is played in small and closed areas (and often with very small nets), Iranian players are often technically gifted.
On June 8, 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.
Iran is, as of 2006, ranked close to the edge of the Top 20 in the FIFA World Rankings, with its current ranking at #23.