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PREVIEW: Iran vs. South Korea | 2022 World Cup Qualifiers - Team News, Opposition Insight, Predictions and More

22.03.22PREVIEW: Iran vs. South Korea | 2022 World Cup Qualifiers - Team News, Opposition Insight, Predictions and More

Written by Alex Azarm
Edited by Samson Tamijani
Graphic by Mahdi Javanbakhsh

Thursday 24/03/22: Iran vs South Korea

Location: Seoul, South Korea (Seoul World Cup Stadium)

Time zones:

Tehran – 15:30
London – 11:00
Berlin – 12:00
Los Angeles – 04:00
New York City – 07:00
Sydney – 22:00
Seoul – 20:00

Where to Watch:

USA - Paramount+
UK - OneFootball App or onefootball.com/en/match/223211
Germany - sporttotal.tv/ma52df5c16
Sweden - cmore.se/sport/spel/13753722-sydkorea-iran
Australia - 10 Play
Iran - IRIB 3

Iran head into their last international break of World Cup Qualifiers as they take on rivals South Korea in Seoul for the fight for top spot in Group A and perhaps reach Pot 2 of April’s FIFA World Cup draw.

Recap

Iran went a perfect two for two in their last time out as they managed to secure automatic qualification to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar by defeating Iraq 1-0 and UAE 1-0. Both goals came from star striker Mehdi Taremi. Despite going down to ten men against UAE the unit stayed resilient and grinded out a clean sheet. Team Melli have only conceded two goals in eight games and have scored 13. The Persian Cheetahs are still in first place in the group with 22 points, looking to stay undefeated when they go up against the team right behind them in South Korea.

Team News

The starting line-up will be much different from Iran’s last match. Right back Sadegh Moharrami is suspended for the match after getting sent off against UAE by picking up two yellow cards. Saeid Ezatolahi is suspended due to a yellow card accumulation. Saman Ghoddos, Mehdi Taremi, and Alireza Jahanbakhsh have all tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the match as well. That is 5 starters out from the squad completely, severely undermanning Team Melli. However, we will see the return of Sardar Azmoun, a new member of Bayer Leverkusen. Last international break Azmoun missed out due to COVID-19 and his return will be a big boost for the team’s frontline. Without Taremi, Dragan Skočić will keep the 4-3-3 formation. I would expect Khalilzadeh to move to right back as he has played at that position for his club team Al-Rayyan and Majid Hosseini looks to start for the first time in this round of qualifiers at center back. As for the midfield, captain Ehsan Hajsafi will come into the lineup alongside Ahmad Nourallahi and Vahid Amiri. Azmoun and Ali Gholizadeh are guaranteed in the front three and one of Karim Ansarifard, Mehdi Torabi or Allahyar Sayyadmanesh to complete the attack, but I would expect the 20-year old to get the nod.

Projected Starting Line-up (4-3-3)

Abedzadeh; Khalilzadeh, Kanaani, Hosseini, Noorafkan; Amiri, Nourollahi, Hajsafi; Gholizadeh, Azmoun, Sayyadmanesh.

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The opponent – South Korea

Ranked 29th in FIFA Men’s Rankings, South Korea is Iran’s toughest opponent in the group. The penultimate match of this round of qualifiers will prove to be a crucial one as South Korea brings back star attacker Son Heung-min after he missed their last two qualifiers due to injury. However, the Taegeuk Warriors were still able to pick up wins in both their matches against Lebanon and Syria. Also look out for Wolverhampton attacker Hwang-Hee chan, who has had a decent debut season in the English Premier League. However, Korea will be missing a key player in their midfield as Rubin Kazan midfielder Hwang In-beom was not called up for their camp. They are still a dangerous team, however, and will have a packed house of 60,000 fans to cheer them on in their capital’s largest stadium. A victory over Iran would give a big confidence boost, as they currently sit at 20 points in Group A - two points behind Iran.

Team Melli have won all but one of their games in the qualifiers (a 1-1 draw to South Korea in Tehran), so should they come away with a result in Seoul, Iran will have all but guaranteed their place as winners of Group A. This makes the match a must-win for the hosts.

Projected Starting Line-up for South Korea (4-4-2)

Kim Seung-gyu; Kim Tae-hwan, Kim Min-jae, Kim Young-gwon, Kim Jin-su; Kwon Chang-hoon, Jung Woo-young, Lee Jae-sung, Son-Heung Min; Cho Gue-sung/Hwang Hee-chan, Hwang Ui-Jo. (via Steve Han - goal.com)

Prediction

Iran 0-0 South Korea

This match will definitely be the toughest of the entire qualification process as Iran are against the highest-ranked opponent in their group and away from Azadi Stadium. However, Team Melli’s record against its east Asian rivals has been superb over the past decade.

But without some of their main players, Iran’s best way to get a result out of the match is to defend. Despite Azmoun returning to the side, it will be extremely difficult to get past the Korean defense all by himself. If there were to be a goal in this match, I would bet South Korean captain Heung-Min son to score. For the first time in a while, South Korea look to be the favorites on Thursday even without their best midfielder in Hwang In-beom.

While Iran are expected to win every game in qualifiers, Dragan Skočić and his men can go back to Tehran with their heads held high should they just snatch a point. With that accomplished, Iran only has to beat Lebanon at home to secure first place.

To listen to our podcast previewing the Iran vs. South Korea match, visit: golbezanpodcast.com/golbezan/preview-iran-vs-south-korea-1

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Seoul World Cup Stadium, Seoul