TEHRAN – Iran’s head coach Mehdi Mahdavikia has named the 24-man squad ahead of the upcoming AFC U23 Asian Cup.
The players will start a four-day training camp in Tehran today before heading to Iraq to take on the Asian rival in a couple of friendlies on May 24 and 27.
Iran will then leave Iraq for Uzbekistan to get its campaign underway at the U23 Asian Cup, starting June 1 in the cities of Tashkent and Qarshi.
Iranian skipper Yassin Salmani bagged a sensational hat-trick to lead his side to a 3-2 victory over Tajikistan as Iran finished atop the qualification group last November for a place in the final showdown.
Mahdavikia’s men have been pitted against the host, Qatar, and Turkmenistan in Group A of the 16-team tournament.
Iran and Qatar will open the competition at Tashkent’s Pakhtakor Stadium.
Iran will then square off against Turkmenistan on June 4, before going head-to-head with Uzbekistan – winner of the competition in 2018 – in a repeat of a group stage 1-1 draw two years.
Despite being among the Asian powerhouses at the senior level, Iran has only managed to progress beyond the group phase once in its previous three campaigns – a quarterfinal finish in Qatar in 2016 which saw Iran fail to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Highly admired as one of the greatest in recent history of Iranian football, Mahdavikia will be looking to bring an end to the country’s wait for an Olympic berth by steering his side into the Paris 2024 Games.
Following his retirement in 2013, ex-Iranian international fullback dedicated his career to youth-level football, working as a coach with German side Hamburg, where he is considered a club legend, while founding the KIA Football Academy in Iran in 2015.
The following is Iran’s 24-man squad for the AFC U23 Asian Cup:
Alireza Rezaei, Amir-Ali Sadeqi, Sina Saeedifar (Esteghlal); Yassin Salmani, Arya Yousefi (Sepahan); Alireza Bavieh, Muhammad-Amin Hazbavi (Foolad Khuzestan), Erfan Shahriari, Saman Fallah (Paykan); Milad Kor, Muhammad-Hussein Eslami, Muhammad Khodabandelou (Zob Ahan); Payam Parsa, Ahmad Shariatzadeh, Muhammad-Hossein Zavvari (San’at Naft Abadan); Muhammad Qorbani (Nassaji Mazandaran); Muhammad-Mehdi Ahmadi, Mehdi Hashem-Nejad (Naft Masjed Soleyman); Amir Ja’fari (Shahr Khodro); Yadegar Rostami (Pogoń Szczecin); Balal Arazi, Ali Pilaram (Pars Jonoubi Jam); Alireza Khodaei (Saipa); Ali-Javad Kalmarzi (Dutch league).