Ali Daei will captain the Iran squad to the World Cup. He is a legend in Iran and one of Asia’s best footballers. Daei was hailed worldwide for bringing his already world’s best record to 102 international goals as he hit four in 2006 World Cup qualifier against Laos in mid-November.
The 35-year-old wrote history in his 133rd cap by scoring the 100th goal in a 7-0 rout of Laos, outnumbering the previous records of two international football legends, Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas with 85 goals and Brazil’s Pele with 77 goals.
Team Melli was missing in the last World Cup and this time around they have a great squad with talents like Ali Karimi, Vahid Hashemian, and Mehdi Mahdavikia. Iran is in a fairly tough group with Portugal, Angola, and Mexico. But there are very good chances that Iran could qualify for Round II. Portugal and Mexico are veteran teams but have never played to potential. Coach Branko Ivankovic was predicting that Iran could “surprise the world” in Germany in June. “We want to surprise the world and I am sure the players will prove this during the World Cup,” said Ivankovic. “You should not forget the performances of Korea Republic and Japan in the last World Cup. Anything can happen in football.”
On a worrisome note is the ankle fracture sustained by Ali Karimi, Bayern Munich midfielderin early March. Iran hopes that his exceptional speed and ball skills will be back to par when they open against Mexico.