Why is everyone talking about Wales' next World Cup opponents Iran ?

Why is everyone talking about Wales' next World Cup opponents Iran ?

Updated: 2 days, 5 hours, 59 minutes, 19 seconds ago

Wales kicked off their first World Cup campaign in 64 years with a 1-1 draw against USA as a late Gareth Bale penalty earned Cymru a crucial point.

Rob Page's men will now have their full focus on Friday's decisive game against Iran.

A positive result against the Iranians will be vital if Wales hope to progress from the group stages of the tournament.

ITV Wales takes a look at the Iranian team who have been making headlines on and off the pitch.

In both Wales and Iran's first group games, the team's national anthems caught the attention of millions watching.

The Iran players refused to sing the national anthem in their opening game against England as a show of support with the protestors at home.

Credit: PA

For Wales, the passion with which the team and fans in the stadium sang 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau' was praised around the world.

For Iran, the volume may not have been as loud, but the message was clear.

Fan wearing protest slogans on their T-shirts at the Iran match against England.

Credit: AP

The team stayed silent while their national anthem was played before their 6-2 defeat to England on Monday. It was a show of support for the protest movement taking place in Iran since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody in September.

At least 419 people have been killed in the protests, including dozens of children, according to human rights groups.

Iran national team manager, Carlos Queiroz speaks to his team after their 6-2 loss to England.

Credit: PA

Team Melli as the national team is known, have had just as a chaotic time on the pitch in recent months.

A coaching change made just two months ago disrupted the preparations for their third World Cup in a row. Some may know Carlos Queiroz, the new national team manager, from his time as assistant manager to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Despite their recent troubles on and off the field and their emphatic loss to England, Iran are still ranked by Fifa in the top 20 teams in the World, only one position behind Wales.

Wales will be confident of gaining a positive result against the Iranians but Page's men will need to be weary of the threats within Team Melli.

Key PlayersMehdi Taremi (right) and Sardar Azmoun are two of Iran's most dangerous players.

Iran's attacking players are no doubt their biggest threat. Players like Mehdi Taremi, Sardar Azmoun and Alireza Jahanbakhsh all come with stellar reputations and scoring records.

30 year-old Taremi scored twice against England and has been in excellent form for Portuguese club side Porto.

He has 13 goals in 19 games so far for his club side and it's been reported that a host of top European clubs are interested in the striker.

30 year-old Taremi scored twice against England. Here he is celebrating the penalty he scored.

Credit: PA

Wingers, Jahanbakhsh and Saman Ghoddos have top-level club experience. The former spent three years with Brighton and Ghoddos is currently with Brentford in the Premier League.

Many Iranians may say golden-boy Sardar Azmoun remains his country's brightest star, even when searching for his best form. The 27-year-old has hit 41 goals in 65 matches for his nation and will be hoping to add to that against the Dragons on Friday.

It's all to play for on Friday morning as a loss for both countries would most likely spell the end of their World Cup dreams.

Iran World Cup 2022 Squad:

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Amir Abedzadeh (Ponferradina), Payam Niazmand (Sepahan) 

Defenders: Ehsan Hajsafi (AEK Athens), Morteza Pouraliganji (Persepolis), Ramin Rezaeian (Sepahan), Milad Mohammadi (AEK Athens), Shojae Khalilzadeh (Al-Ahli), Hossein Kanaanizadegan (Al-Ahli), Sadegh Moharrami (Dinamo Zagreb), Majid Hosseini (Kayserispor), Rouzbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal), Abolfazl Jalali (Esteghlal) 

Midfielders: Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saeid Ezatolahi (Vejle), Mehdi Torabi (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Brentford), Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi), Ahmad Nourollahi (Shabab Al Ahli), Ali Karimi (Kayserispor)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord), Mehdi Taremi (Porto), Karim Ansarifard (Omonia), Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen)