Iran to play friendlies with Syria, Vietnam and China

TEHRAN (AFP) -- Iran are to prepare for their next World Cup qualifier with friendly games against Syria, Vietnam and China, the ISNA news agency reported quoted in local newspaper on Saturday.

The games against Syria will be played in Tehran on May 23 and Team Melli will face Vietnam and China in China on May 29 and June 1 respectively.

Vietnamese fans during a match of the national team in Vietnam (Filed photo)

Iran's next world cup qualifier will be an away game against North Korea on June 6. Their previous match in the group, held in Tehran, ended in Team Melli winning 2-1.

Iran has sacked two national football team coach in a month time, and has resorted to a Iranian-American Afshin Qotbi who has promised to take his side to a fourth World Cup appearance at next summer's tournament in South Africa, despite their poor qualifying form.

Iran faces an uphill struggle to secure a place at the World Cup, with two away matches in South and North Korea and a home match with the UAE to come. It is currently in fourth place in Asian qualifying group two.

Qotbi, is banking on his knowledge of Korean football to give his new charges an advantage when they take on the North in their next game.

He had a long stint assisting successive Dutch coaches Guus Hiddink, Dick Advocaat and then Pim Verbeek with the South Korean national side.

South Korea top the pool with 11 points from five games, followed by their northern neighbours on 10 points from six games, with Saudi Arabia in third, also on 10 points from six games.

Iran have six points from five games, having recorded only one win and three draws.

Asia has four automatic qualifying berths, with the third-placed teams in the two final qualifying groups playing off against each other for the right to take on Oceania zone victors New Zealand for a place in the finals.

Iran have appeared in the 1978, 1998 and 2006 World Cups. Their best result in the competition was in France 98, when they beat arch-foe the United States by two goals to one in a group match.

Source: AFP

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